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Fisher: Cut Blocks Impact Running Game

Posted Sep 24, 2013

Rams coach Jeff Fisher, a member of the NFL's competition committee, discussed the Week 2 play that ended Ian Williams' season.

The play that ended 49ers nose tackle Ian Williams’ season is not an easy one to dissect, let alone watch.

St. Louis Rams coach Jeff Fisher, whose team hosts San Francisco sans Williams on Thursday night, hasn’t seen it on film. But that doesn’t mean he won’t go back and find it.

As a member of the NFL’s competition committee, which reviews in-place rules and recommends alterations, watching the gruesome plays over and over is a part of his job.

Fisher said Tuesday morning on a conference call with Bay Area reporters that this very topic is discussed annually within the committee, which is chaired by Rich McKay, as well as the coaches and the players.

“We’re dealing with a situation where the defensive lineman has an opportunity to protect himself and knows there’s a potential for a low block," he said. "The general feeling is that if you take that block – that cut-block in the run game – out of the game then you’re going to significantly impact the run game.

“It’s unfortunate. There’s going to be injuries that take place during the game. The committee’s No. 1 focus is on player safety, and I think the committee has done a really good job from that standpoint.”

Fisher was asked about a defensive player who was engaged with one offensive player while a second emerged.

This was the case in the 49ers Week 2 matchup in Seattle, when Seahawks right guard J.R. Sweezy rolled into Williams’ left leg while the 6-foot-1, 305-pound defensive lineman was going up against center Max Unger on San Francisco's second defensive series of the game.

“We know what the rules are,” Fisher said Tuesday morning. “You can’t have the chip with one man removed on the backside, but in line play, cut blocks are permissible and defensive players know it’s coming, anticipate it and have the obligation to protect themselves.”

Williams, who was making his first career start that night, was slated for season-ending surgery on Sept. 16, according to Jim Harbaugh. The 49ers coach called it “an unfortunate play."

Without Williams, the 49ers will start Glenn Dorsey opposite Rams center Scott Wells. Reserve Tony-Jerod Eddie will also play the nose tackle position.