Could nose tackle be on 49ers’ radar?

The 49ers placed the franchise tag on nose tackle Aubrayo Franklin this week but it’s uncertain whether they can work out a long-term contract. I think if the 49ers really like a defensive lineman – even a nose tackle – they would not think twice about taking him at any point in the draft.


One player who is gaining the attention of NFL teams that play the 3-4 defense is nose tackle Dan Williams. Like Franklin, Williams attended Tennessee.


Williams played for highly respected defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin last season. Williams weighed in at 6-foot-2, 327 pounds. He said he has spoken with the 49ers at the combine. He is generally regarded as the No. 3 defensive tackle behind Gerald McCoy (Oklahoma) and Ndamukong Suh (Nebraska).


Here is a short podcast with him:


Here are more notes from the NFL Scouting Combine:


RB Ryan Mathews of Fresno State averaged 6.1 yards per carry during his three-year career with the 49es. He is definitely cut from the 49ers’ mold, but the 49ers did fill this spot with a third-round pick (Glen Coffee) a year ago. “I’d have to say my vision and being able to get north and south is my strength,” he said. “I’m not a finesse runner but I can get the ball downfield and I can break for big yards.” And he can block, too. “Being at Fresno State, the running backs are incorporated in the blocking a lot. Coming from a program like that is really going to help me at the next level.”


RB Jonathan Dwyer, who played in the 250-pound range, was down to 229. He said he was asked to play at a bigger weight in Georgia Tech’s option offense. Now, teams have quizzed him about the transition to the NFL. “That’s just a question that is going to continuously be asked. But if they go back to the 2007 season when I was a true freshmen and played behind Tashard Choice, it’s nothing new for me to be able to play 7 yards deep,” Dwyer said. “I’m just going out there to show them that I’m an athlete and I have the ability to adjust to any kind of offense they throw at me.”


RB Joique Bell was forced to play quarterback in high school as a senior. He said Michigan and Michigan State recruited him as a defensive player, but he wanted to play offense. That’s how he ended up at Wayne State. “I knew in my heart that’s what I wanted to do and that was my passion. When you set your mind to something, nobody can tell you different. I told myself I was going to make the league playing running back. The opportunity is now right out in front of me. I just have to grab it. I put in the time; I put in the hard work, and will continue to put in the work until I meet my goals.” He figures to be a mid-round draft pick.


G Mike Johnson of Alabama was tested throughout his college career, as he often squared off against teammate NT Terrence Cody, who is no stranger to the 370-pound range. “It couldn’t have hurt. He’s a big guy. He’s definitely a force. He’s going to do well in the NFL. He’s done a real great job. Anytime you have a guy like that across from you it’s going to make you bettter. I don’t think there’s any way to really handle that weight. You try to deal with it the best you can. He’s going to have a great combine. Hopefully, he has a great day and I have a great day as well.” NFL Draft Scout has Johnson rated as a third-round pick, where he could be an option for the 49ers.


–The interview process is important for Notre Dame QB Jimmy Clausen, whose leadership skills have been questioned. “Some of the people that say those things just don’t know me as a person,” Clausen said. “A lot of people don’t really know me as a person. That’s why I was so excited to come here, talk to all the coaches and the GMs and owners – so they get a feel for me as a person. Being at Notre Dame, the quarterback and the head coach get all the credit when things go right and get a lot of blame when things go wrong. It’s a tough situation being in a fishbowl at Notre Dame. I was so excited to come out here and just to meet a bunch of the guys, I know a lot of the guys that are out here working out, just to meet those coaches and for them to get a feel for me as a person.”


LB Jerry Hughes of TCU figures to be another player who should be attractive to teams that play the 3-4 scheme. “I’m hearing different things from defensive end to outside linebacker,” Hughes said. “Wherever they ask me to play, I’ll be more than happy to play and give it 110 percent.” As for his ability to play coverage: “I dropped into coverage a lot, just depending on the different coach that the coach had given us.”


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