If you don't like this pick, I have a hard time believing you watched the 49ers play without Justin Smith. How Smith does what he does at only 290 pounds is unexplainable and is not something that you can expect any lighter DT like a Sheldon Richardson to do.
The only solidly planted person on the 49ers defensive line right now is Ray McDonald. He was given a five-year extension shortly following the team letting previously franchised NT Aubrayo Franklin walk (a move I was hugely in favor of). Justin Smith is playing at a high level and is perhaps the most important member of this defense, which is why we need someone who is capable of continuing what he brings to the table.
However, Sopoaga is also getting up there and may already have exceeded the useful life expectancy of an NFL nose tackle. If there is one player who you would be willing to take off the field to get your first-round draft pick into the line up, I'd tell you that has to be Sopoaga at this point.
Isaac Sopoaga is more than adequate at the NT in the sense of occupying blockers, but who else at his size is? I'm not convinced personally that Ricky Jean Francois isn't a better backup to either DE than a viable option at nose tackle. Aside from Sopoaga, I'm not sure that those players have the strength and power to take focus off Ray McDonald and Justin Smith.
The bottom line is, we all know that Justin Smith is getting up there in age, but what we don't know is where the next hole on the line will open up.
Sopoaga's backups are 30 pounds lighter than him. The 49ers' previous nose tackle, Aubrayo Franklin, was slightly smaller but significantly weaker than Sopoaga. When Sopoaga took the nose and Ray McDonald took over his former spot at DE, a significant improvement in the run defense was noted statistically.
Still, against elite offensive lines, the 49ers could stand for an improvement to aid them in getting pressure into the backfield. The 49ers need a massive, workout warrior nose tackle to keep that steak alive.
Enter Jesse Williams, a 6'4", 320-pound monstrosity capable of playing and excelling at any position on a 3-4 defensive line. Williams relies solely on power and technique. He moves towards where he wants to go and does not get stopped by one man. He is deceptively heavy for his physique
While at Alabama, Williams played both 3-4 defensive end and nose tackle. He lit up Twitter when he bench pressed 600 pounds while working out with Alabama kicker Cade Foster. He demonstrated Justin Smith-like toughness by going back into the SEC championship game against Georgia and teaming up to make a key stop on 3rd-and-short. He has 49er written all over him.
"Third and short, you have to block Justin Smith, Isaac Sopoaga and Jesse Williams on the line. Who's got Willis and Bowman? Sound good to you?"
Alternatives: Sheldon Richardson, DT, Missouri (reach), John Jenkins, NT, Georgia (settle)