Surprisingly, the San Francisco 49ers will have Kyle Williams as a receiver and kickoff returner for the game Sunday against the New York Giants. That hardly seemed possible in the wake of Williams' two gaffes against the Giants in last season's NFC Championship Game.
Williams accounted for two turnovers on punt returns, including a fumble in overtime that led to the Giants kicking a field goal for a 20-17 win. Williams not only overcame the huge psychological hurdle to make the team, he also has excelled this year and is excited about Sunday's rematch with New York at Candlestick Park.
"We look at it as they had something we should have had," Williams said. "Going into it this year, we are going to make sure we don't leave anything like that on the field again."
Williams was mainly talking about himself, and he said he did look up where the Giants fell when the schedule came out in April because of what happened in January.
After the NFC title game, many coaches would have released him, and perhaps the 49ers' coaches didn't expect him to make the team.
The 49ers signed Randy Moss and former Giant Mario Manningham and then drafted wide receiver A.J. Jenkins in the first round. Seemingly, Williams would have to unseat a veteran or a high-round draft pick to make the team.
Fueled by his frustration and anger, Williams did not take any time off in the offseason, and he was one of the best players throughout the offseason program and training camp, forcing the 49ers to keep six wide receivers.
So far this season, Williams has caught four passes for 66 yards, including a 43-yard touchdown last week against the Bills. He's also run the ball three times for 18 yards, and he's taken the kick returner's job from Kendall Hunter and Ted Ginn Jr; he's averaging 35.7 yards a return, including one 94-yarder.
When Ginn missed the first three games, coach Jim Harbaugh didn't hesitate to install Williams as his punt returner. Through the three games, Williams handled all his chances without incident.
This week, Williams isn't expected to return punts unless Ginn gets hurt. Nevertheless, he was asked if there were a fear he could press against the Giants and try and do too much.
"I'm comfortable the way I approach every single game," Williams said. "I'm not trying to do too much or anything like that. You don't need anybody to do too much on this team. Everybody plays their role and does what they have to do. We'll be fine; we're a great team (with) everybody together."