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PFT’s Week Eight picks

Washington Redskins v New York Giants Getty Images

Week Seven was a very lucky week for yours truly.  With an unlucky 13 games on the schedule, I got 12 of them correct, with only a late comeback from the Titans blocking an unprecedented piece of perfection.

More importantly, MDS and I disagreed on three games.  Thanks to the Cowboys, Saints, and Colts, my two-game season-to-date lead has been extended to five games.

For the year, I’m now 67-37, and MDS is 62-42.

MDS will join Thursday’s PFT Live to discuss this week’s picks.  There will be no gloating.

At least not by him.

Buccaneers at Vikings

MDS’s take: After I was burned by picking the Bucs last week on the way to going 0-for-3 on games where I disagreed with Florio, I’m playing it safe this week. Tampa Bay still looks to me like a team that’s headed in the right direction, but right now the Vikings have too much for the Bucs on both sides of the ball and should win this one comfortably.

MDS’s pick: Vikings 27, Buccaneers 13.

Florio’s take:  The Vikings get a chance to show how different they are this year against one of the teams to whom the Vikings blew a big halftime lead last year.  This time, if the Vikings are up by 10 or more at the break, look for them to close it out with a defense that finally is good enough to hold leads.

Florio’s pick:  Vikings 21, Buccaneers 19.

Panthers at Bears

MDS’s take: Cam Newton is going to bounce back from this slump he’s in eventually. He’s too talented not to. But the Bears are the wrong team for a young quarterback to bounce back against. Chicago’s relentless pressure will force a few turnovers and lead to another loss for the Panthers.

MDS’s pick: Bears 20, Panthers 10.

Florio’s take:  Rattled by the ouster of G.M. Marty Hurney, racked by injuries, and reeling from the sad-sack demeanor of Cam Newton, the Panthers are poised to get plastered.

Florio’s pick:  Bears 31, Panthers 10.

Chargers at Browns

MDS’s take: The Chargers have had two weeks to lick their wounds after that disastrous Monday night meltdown against the Broncos. They’ll come in to Cleveland focused and motivated and win this one comfortably.

MDS’s pick: Chargers 31, Browns 17.

Florio’s take:  If Mike Holmgren’s current team can knock off the Chargers, the Chargers could be Mike Holmgren’s next team.  Though a house-cleaning could still be coming, the Chargers will likely do enough to reverse a bad two weeks of blown leads and stickum, allegedly.

Florio’s pick:  Chargers 24, Browns 17.

Seahawks at Lions

MDS’s take: Mistakes keep killing the Lions, whether it’s penalties, turnovers or special teams coverage breakdowns. If the Lions could get out of their own way they could go on a run down the stretch and still contend for a wild card berth, but that doesn’t look likely at this point. Seattle is the team that looks like a playoff contender, and the Seahawks will take another step in that direction with a win on the road.

MDS’s pick: Seahawks 17, Lions 14.

Florio’s take:  If this one were set for Seattle, it would be a no brainer.  In Detroit, the Seahawks have an opportunity to prove that they’re capable of beating better-than-bad teams in a place other than CenturyLink Field.

Florio’s pick:  Seahawks 17, Lions 16.

Jaguars at Packers

MDS’s take: In the biggest mismatch of the week, the Jaguars’ offense will look even worse than usual without Maurice Jones-Drew, and Aaron Rodgers will have his third consecutive huge game.

MDS’s pick: Packers 34, Jaguars 3.

Florio’s take:  The Packers have never beaten the Jaguars at Lambeau Field.  Then again, these teams have played there only once.  The Jags will want to forget their second trip to town.

Florio’s pick:  Packers 45, Jaguars 21.

Dolphins at Jets

MDS’s take: I’m impressed that the Jets aren’t going down without a fight. When they lost Darrelle Revis and got blown out by the 49ers, I figured the Jets were finished, but they’ve played good football for the last three weeks, even if they have only one win to show for it in those three games. The Jets will beat the Dolphins in a low-scoring game and get back to .500.

MDS’s pick: Jets 13, Dolphins 10.

Florio’s take:  Despite the injuries and the ineffectiveness and the uncertainty, the Jets have improved over the past few weeks.  They’re good enough to complete the sweep of a Dolphins team that has improved even more discreetly.

Florio’s pick:  Jets 30, Dolphins 20.

Falcons at Eagles

MDS’s take: The Eagles know their backs are against the wall, and the Falcons have been scraping by with three straight close wins. This looks to me like the day when the Falcons’ luck runs out, and the last unbeaten team in the league gets beaten.

MDS’s pick: Eagles 24, Falcons 21.

Florio’s take:  Andy Reid is 13-0 after the bye week.  Sometimes, there’s no need for elaboration.

Florio’s pick:  Eagles 24, Falcons 23.

Redskins at Steelers

MDS’s take: The Steelers took a big step toward the playoffs with last week’s win in Cincinnati, and I like them to keep it going against the Redskins. Look for Steelers tight end Heath Miller to have a big game against the Redskins’ defense, just as Giants tight end Martellus Bennett, Vikings tight end Kyle Rudolph and Falcons tight end Tony Gonzalez have in the Redskins’ last three games.

MDS’s pick: Steelers 28, Redskins 27.

Florio’s take:  The Steelers are 20-2-1 at Heinz Field against NFC teams.  But Heinz Field has never seen anything like RG3, who’ll run circles around a Polamalu-free Pittsburgh defense.

Florio’s pick:  Redskins 23, Steelers 20.

Patriots at Rams

MDS’s take: The Rams’ secondary has been playing well and the Patriots’ secondary has been leaving receivers wide open, and I’m tempted to pick the upset for that reason. But with Danny Amendola hurt I don’t think the Rams have the ammunition to take advantage of the Patriots’ problems on defense, and I think New England’s running game can churn up yardage at Wembley Stadium and lead the Patriots to a low-scoring win.

MDS’s pick: Patriots 16, Rams 10.

Florio’s take:  The team whose name pays homage to the men who kicked the butts of the Brits like to kick butt in Britain.  Though it won’t be a blowout like it was three years ago against the Bucs, the Pats should be able to build a fourth-quarter lead.  And hold it.  For a change.

Florio’s pick:  Patriots 27, Rams 21.

Colts at Titans

MDS’s take: Titans running back Chris Johnson took advantage of a bad Bills defense last week, and he should be able to take advantage of a bad Colts defense this week. Johnson will go for about 150 yards and the Colts’ offense won’t be able to keep up.

MDS’s pick: Titans 28, Colts 21.

Florio’s take:  The winner of this one won’t likely challenge the Texans for the division crown but would be very much alive for a wild-card berth.  The Titans continue their knack for playing in — and winning — exciting games.

Florio’s pick:  Titans 27, Colts 24.

Raiders at Chiefs

MDS’s take: I’m not a believer in Brady Quinn as the Chiefs’ long-term answer at quarterback, but as a short-term fix who won’t turn the ball over as often as Matt Cassel, Quinn should be able to lead Kansas City to a home win over a bad team.

MDS’s pick: Chiefs 20, Raiders 16.

Florio’s take:  Oakland has won five straight times at Arrowhead Stadium.  With an extra week to prepare and everyone on the hot seat, if the Chiefs don’t beat the Raiders at home now, they possibly never will.

Florio’s pick:  Chiefs 24, Raiders 10.

Giants at Cowboys

MDS’s take: Completing a season sweep of the Giants would go a long way toward getting the Cowboys into playoff contention, but I don’t see it happening. The Cowboys’ defense will miss linebacker Sean Lee, Giants quarterback Eli Manning will have a big day, and the Giants will improve to 4-0 all time at Cowboys Stadium.

MDS’s pick: Giants 31, Cowboys 20.

Florio’s take:  The Cowboys aren’t nearly as good as they were in Week One, when they beat the Giants in New Jersey.  The Giants are the same, but this time they won’t get complacent.

Florio’s pick:  Giants 35, Cowboys 27.

Saints at Broncos

MDS’s take: Two future Hall of Fame quarterbacks will be on the field in Denver, but Drew Brees has to play against a good Broncos secondary, while Peyton Manning gets to play against a terrible Saints secondary. Advantage Peyton.

MDS’s pick: Broncos 42, Saints 21.

Florio’s take:  When he was the head coach of the Panthers, John Fox held his own against Sean Payton’s Saints.  This time, Fox has a great quarterback — and the Saints don’t have Payton.

Florio’s pick:  Broncos 38, Saints 28.

49ers at Cardinals

MDS’s take: The Cardinals’ great start to the season may come to a screeching halt on Monday night.  A home loss to a division rival would be tough for Arizona to overcome, and a win at Arizona will be another step for the 49ers toward establishing themselves as the clear favorites to win the NFC West.

MDS’s pick: 49ers 20, Cardinals 13.

Florio’s take:  Once atop the NFC West, the Cardinals are close to completing their slide to the basement.  Blame it on the lack of a high-end quarterback and an offensive line to protect him.

Florio’s pick:  49ers 24, Cardinals 13.

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Which game are you most looking forward to watching this weekend?

GREEN BAY, WI - OCTOBER 16:  Dak Prescott #4 of the Dallas Cowboys attempts a pass against the Green Bay Packers during the first quarter at Lambeau Field on October 16, 2016 in Green Bay, Wisconsin.  (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images) Getty Images

The game we all were least looking forward to watching has come and, thankfully, gone. So we can now focus on the rest of Week Eight, and specifically the game we’re much more excited about watching.

That’s the subject of Friday’s PFT Live question of the day.

Make your choice from the options listed below, complain in the comments about the games that were omitted, and then before watching the games on Sunday check out the last show of the week, featuring a visit from Dolphins receiver Jarvis Landry.

The show gets started at 6:00 a.m. on NBC Sports Radio, and the simulcast begins at 7:00 a.m. ET on NBCSN.

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Gus Bradley says Jaguars need “some soul searching”

Jacksonville Jaguars head coach Gus Bradley talks to defensive tackle Richard Ash, left, in the second half of an NFL football game against the Tennessee Titans Thursday, Oct. 27, 2016, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Zaleski) AP

Jaguars coach Gus Bradley said after last night’s blowout loss to the Titans that his team needs to look within itself and address why this season has gone so poorly.

“This is some soul searching. We need to find out what’s the issue,” Bradley said. “I think all of us are frustrated in our play.”

Bradley acknowledged that his players came out not looking like they were playing very hard, but he was unsure what he could have done differently to get them ready.

“It wasn’t good enough, obviously,” Bradley said. “We looked like we got punched in the mouth and we didn’t respond real well. All of us take responsibility. There are some coaching things and some playing things.”

Jaguars owner Shad Khan indicated after the game that he doesn’t plan to fire Bradley, and so Bradley will get plenty of time to figure out how to clean up this mess. He has some soul searching of his own to do.

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Jaguars owner Shad Khan says no coaching change for Jaguars

NASHVILLE, TN - OCTOBER 27:  Head coach Gus Bradley watches from the sideline during a game against the Tennessee Titans during the second half at Nissan Stadium on October 27, 2016 in Nashville, Tennessee.  (Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images) Getty Images

Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shad Khan met with coaches and players this week in an attempt to figure out just why his team was not winning more football games.

The Jaguars responded with an absolute dud Thursday night in Nashville against the Tennessee Titans. Jacksonville fell behind 27-0 in the first half. Dante Fowler Jr. picked up a personal foul for a pseudo punch to an Titans player just four days after Mailk Jackson (personal foul accumulation) and Jalen Ramsey (fighting) were ejected against Oakland.

Head coach Gus Bradley is now 14-41 during his tenure in Jacksonville. With 10 days before the Jaguars have to play again, the question is whether Khan would look to make a change at head coach.

According to Ryan O’Halloran of the Florida Times-Union, Khan said there will not be a coaching change following Thursday night’s 36-22 loss.

However, Khan also said “actions speak louder than words. Very little for me to say.”

Unless something drastic changes, Bradley’s time in Jacksonville would seem to be running short. Changing coaches in season likely won’t do anything significant and a real change won’t realistically be possible until January at the earliest. But having your previous head coach, Mike Mularkey, hand your team a beat down like the Jaguars experienced Thursday night can’t sit well with Khan.

There’s enough talent on the roster now that Jacksonville should be beyond these types of performances. If they can’t make a change with Bradley at the helm, they’ll probably be making changes without him in the near future.

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Russell Wilson expecting to play against Saints despite pectoral injury

GLENDALE, AZ - OCTOBER 23:  Quarterback Russell Wilson #3 of the Seattle Seahawks throws a pass during the second half of the NFL game against the Arizona Cardinals at the University of Phoenix Stadium on October 23, 2016 in Glendale, Arizona. The Cardinals and Seahawks tied 6-6.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) Getty Images

Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson has sustained three separate injuries in the first six games of the regular season. Just like the previous two, Wilson doesn’t expect his newest ailment from keeping him out of the lineup.

Wilson has been a limited participant in practice the last two days for Seattle after suffering a right pectoral injury in last week’s tie with the Arizona Cardinals. That injury is in addition to a high-ankle sprain from Week 1 and a sprained MCL in Week 3. Nevertheless, Wilson expects to be starting as usual Sunday in New Orleans.

“It’s a little sore but I think we’ll be fine and get over it and just continue to rehab at the highest level as much as I can,” Wilson said on Thursday.

“It’s not crazy bad or anything like that, just treat it as much as I can, try to be smart this week.”

The injury has forced Wilson to be limited in a practice for the first time in his five-year career. The knee injury remains on the injury report as well. Wilson said that he was initially told that injury would keep him out for four weeks.

“I’ve had a pretty relatively serious injury with my knee,” Wilson said. “They told me I wasn’t supposed to play for four weeks, maybe longer. You just overcome it. I’d be lying to you if I said my mobility was 100 percent but I feel really good right now.”

Wilson is just coming out of that four-week window now. He sustained the knee injury on Sept. 25 and was never limited or absent from a practice due to the injury. Wilson joked that at least his ankle is no longer listed on the injury report.

“I’m just trying to be smart when I’m throwing,” he said. “I can definitely throw it if I needed to, hard or whatever if I needed to. It’s just trying to pace it out. Like I said, I’m not playing until Sunday, so that’s a good thing.”

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Jaguars offer little defense as Titans roll to victory

Tennessee Titans running back DeMarco Murray (29) beats Jacksonville Jaguars safety Johnathan Cyprien (37) to the end zone as Murray scores a touchdown on a 14-yard run in the first half of an NFL football game Thursday, Oct. 27, 2016, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Zaleski) AP

The Jaguars were awful Thursday night. The Titans simply lined up and ran right past them.

Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota threw a couple touchdown passes, too. The Titans thoroughly dominated on both sides and won, 36-22, picking up a much-needed victory to get back to .500 on the season.

It was 27-0 at halftime.

It’s fair to wonder if Jaguars coach Gus Bradley, who’s now 14-41, will still be employed this weekend. Near the midway point of the second quarter, the Jaguars had 29 total yards and 50 penalty yards.

At halftime, the Titans had 354 yards and the Jaguars had 60. Two of the Jaguars’ touchdowns came in the final four minutes of fourth quarter, long after the game had been decided.

The Titans rolled up 25 first downs, 20 in the first half, and converted nine of their first 13 third-down chances.

Titans running back DeMarco Murray ran for 123 yards and a touchdown. He gave the Titans a brief scare when he went to the locker room with a foot injury late in the first half but returned for the third quarter. He wasn’t needed for the fourth.

Mariota’s touchdown passes went to Kendall Wright and Rishard Matthews. Mariota was 18-of-22 passing for 270 yards. The Titans also rushed for 214 yards.

Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles threw three touchdown passes in the second half. He did what he’s often done, ending up with 337 passing yards while playing from behind after a horrendous start. Bortles tied a franchise record with 54 passing attempts.

The Titans improve to 4-4 and are at the Chargers on Nov. 6. The Jaguars are 2-5 and are at the Chiefs on Nov. 6

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Murray returns, Titans score again

Tennessee Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota (8) scrambles away from Jacksonville Jaguars defensive tackle Malik Jackson, left, in the first half of an NFL football game Thursday, Oct. 27, 2016, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/James Kenney) AP

Titans running back DeMarco Murray returned to Thursday night’s game in the second half.

He left the field late in the second quarter with a foot injury. Murray went over 100 yards rushing on the night early in the third quarter.

The Jaguars haven’t put up much of a fight, but they did drive 75 yards for a touchdown on the opening series of the second half. The Jaguars had 60 total yards in the first half; the Titans had 354.

Marcus Mariota’s second touchdown pass of the night made it 33-8 a little over midway through the third quarter.

The Jaguars scored on a touchdown pass from Blake Bortles to tight end Julius Thomas. They got six first downs on the touchdown drive after having three first downs in the entire first half.

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Titans rolling, but DeMarco Murray leaves game

Tennessee Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota (8) hands the ball to running back DeMarco Murray (29) during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Oct. 9, 2016, in Miami Gardens, Fla.(AP Photo/Joel Auerbach) AP

Titans running back DeMarco Murray left Thursday night’s game late in the second quarter with an injury.

Murray walked to the locker room. The Titans announced that he has a foot injury, but he returned for the second half.

The Titans are steamrolling the Jaguars, 27-0, at halftime. The Titans have 20 first downs and the Jaguars have run 22 plays and have 60 yards.

Rookie Derrick Henry, who already has a touchdown run, will take over as the primary running back. Murray has 13 carries for 82 yards and a touchdown.

Murray came into the game ranking third in the NFL with 633 rushing yards on the season.

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Titans steamrolling listless Jaguars

Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles, left, passes as he is pressured by Tennessee Titans defensive tackle Jurrell Casey, center, and outside linebacker Brian Orakpo (98) in the first half of an NFL football game Thursday, Oct. 27, 2016, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/James Kenney) AP

The Titans are completely embarrassing the Jaguars.

It’s 24-0 just past the midway point of the second quarter. Through four offensive possessions, the Jaguars had 29 offensive yards and 50 penalty yards.

Both DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry have rushing touchdowns against an overmatched Jaguars defense. On the Murray touchdown, Murray reversed his field and quarterback Marcus Mariota was out in front and threw a lead block.

Mariota also threw a touchdown pass to Kendall Wright.

Murray has 62 yards on his first 10 carries. At this rate, he’ll be a spectator in the second half.

The Jags have played with little direction or discipline in the early going.

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Jaguars struggling early, trail 17-0

NASHVILLE, TN - SEPTEMBER 27:  Marcus Mariota #8 of the Tennessee Titans throws a pss during the game against the Indianapolis Colts  at LP Field on September 27, 2015 in Nashville, Tennessee.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images) Getty Images

It’s not been pretty for the Jaguars early in Thursday’s game at Tennessee.

The Jaguars have punted on their first four possessions and have managed just 29 total yards. They have 50 yards in penalties a little short of midway through the second quarter.

Jaguars Coach Gus Bradley, who was 14-40 coming into the game, isn’t having much fun on the sideline.

The Titans have a 17-0 lead after a rushing touchdown by Derrick Henry. The Titans made it 10-0 when Marcus Mariota threw a 36-yard touchdown pass to Kendall Wright early in the second quarter.

It looked like a blown coverage as Wright turned his route up the field and just kept running into open space before Mariota lofted the ball to him.

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Ramsey’s penalty helps Titans score first

#20 of the Jacksonville Jaguars against the Baltimore Ravens at EverBank Field on September 25, 2016 in Jacksonville, Florida.  (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Titans are on the board first in what few expect to be a classic Thursday night game.

Ryan Succop’s 32-yard field goal opened the scoring and capped an 11-play, 54-yard drive.

The field goal drive got a boost from an inexcusable penalty on Jaguars rookie defensive back Jalen Ramsey on a pass that fell incomplete. Titans tight end Phillip Supernaw was standing out of bounds when Ramsey hit him with a shoulder.

The Jaguars took Ramsey out of the game after the hit on Supernaw but he soon returned. Ramsey was ejected from last week’s game for fighting.

The Jaguars have punted on their first two drives.

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Whitworth makes the trip to London, hopes to play Sunday

Cincinnati Bengals v New Orleans Saints Getty Images

Bengals left tackle Andrew Whitworth returned to practice Thursday and made the trip to London with his teammates for Sunday’s game vs. the Redskins.

Whitworth suffered a concussion in last week’s game vs. the Browns. He did not practice Wednesday but was listed as a limited participant Thursday and told reporters he’s hoping to play Sunday.

Whitworth has only missed two games since taking over as the Bengals’ left tackle in 2009.

The Bengals left for London after practice Thursday and were scheduled to arrive there Friday morning.

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Julius Thomas, Tajae Sharpe active

Julius Thomas AP

Jaguars tight end Julius Thomas is active and in the starting lineup for Thursday night’s game at Tennessee.

Thomas had been listed as questionable and limited during the short practice week with an ankle injury. Defensive end Jared Odrick, also listed as questionable with a quad injury, is inactive.

Thomas caught a touchdown pass in both of the Jaguars’ games vs. the Titans last year. This year, he has 16 catches for 196 yards and two touchdowns.

Titans rookie wide receiver Tajae Sharpe will play. He had been listed as questionable with a knee injury and the Titans held off on any decision about his status until Sharpe tested the knee in a pregame workout.

Titans rookie outside linebacker Kevin Dodd and starting safety Rashad Johnson are inactive. Both had been listed as questionable. The Titans previously announced that Brian Schwenke would start at left guard in place of Quinton Spain.

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Ankle injury likely to keep Mangold out Sunday

New York Jets v Buffalo Bills Getty Images

Jets Coach Todd Bowles told reporters Thursday “it doesn’t look good right now” for center Nick Mangold’s chances of playing Sunday at Cleveland.

Mangold has missed both of the team’s practices this week and was wearing a protective boot on his injured ankle Thursday. Bowles stopped short of declaring Mangold out, saying he needed another day before making any kind of official declaration.

Mangold has only missed four games in his 11-year career. The Jets list Wesley Johnson as their backup center on their unofficial depth chart.

Bowles has already ruled out rookie linebacker Darron Lee, right tackle Brent Qvalue and linebacker Bruce Carter. After missing last week’s game, defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson was back at practice Thursday.

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Get ready for Week Eight with the PA and Florio podcast


It’s one of the hottest new podcasts, despite my involvement in it. It’s the PA and Florio podcast, a weekly look at the NFL featuring the voice of the Vikings, Paul Allen, and yours truly.

Episode 2, focusing on Week Eight of the NFL season, is available in various online locations, including iTunes and audioBoom.

Download it or, for faster weekly delivery, subscribe. Also, leave a comment that weaves in one of Paul’s various catch phrases, including “this is not Detroit,” “he’s loooooose,” and/or whatever he said when Blair Walsh missed the field goal against Seattle.

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49ers release Ian Williams from non-football injury list

GLENDALE, AZ - SEPTEMBER 21:  Nose tackle Ian Williams #93 of the San Francisco 49ers walks onto the feild prior to the start of the NFL game against the Arizona Cardinals at the University of Phoenix Stadium on September 21, 2014 in Glendale, Arizona.  The Cardinals defeated the 49ers 23-14.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) Getty Images

Shortly after free agency opened in March, the 49ers and defensive tackle Ian Williams agreed to a deal that would keep Williams with the team for five years.

Williams’ history of ankle injuries and surgeries led to his failure to pass a physical with the team, however, and the deal was scrapped in favor of a one-year pact. Williams never made it onto the field with the team this season as he landed on the non-football injury list at the start of training camp and now his time with the team has come to an end.

The league’s daily transaction wire brings word that the 49ers have released Williams from the NFI list with an injury settlement. The move leaves Williams free to sign with any other team, although the same health concerns that scuttled his deal with the 49ers may remain a stumbling block.

Williams started all 16 games for the 49ers in 2015 and played in 15 other games with them between 2011 and 2015.

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