Team has Williams' back after fumble fallout
Wiliams is ignoring the barrage of hateful, hurtful, even threatening comments he has received via social media in the aftermath of his ill-timed fumbles.
Williams said Monday he takes full responsibility for his fumble on a punt return in overtime of a 20-17 loss to the Giants on Sunday night that set up Lawrence Tynes' winning field goal, calling the moment "painful.
"I really didn't pay attention to Twitter. All the feedback I needed was family and friends, the guys in the locker room," Williams said.
Instantly, Williams was made a villain on the Internet.
He insisted it's part of his job to face the criticism in the aftermath of his mistakes and not hide out in a difficult time. Perhaps that will go a little way in calming down the angry fans, some of whom wished harm on Williams and his family after the gaffes.
"It's one of those things you have to take accountability for," Williams said. "Everybody is responsible for what they do on the field. It's something that I was responsible for and I made a mistake and it's time to own up to it and move forward."
Kicker David Akers took to Twitter on Monday asking people to stop with the harsh remarks directed toward his teammate, saying "ppl need to get a grip! Leave Kyle alone!" He also reminded everybody the NFC West-champion 49ers (14-4) win and lose together, so there would be no finger-pointing in the locker room.
"I'm irritated with the way people are treating him, absolutely," Akers said. "I think it's ridiculous. You know, get a grip on what life's about. He went out and he put his soul out there. That's what he does. He was not trying to do anything other than make an incredible play for this team. He had a great kickoff return. Mistakes happen. We all make mistakes. But when you're out there truly battling to do the best you can, my hat goes off to him, to anybody that does that."
Many of the 49ers spent the time after the game and into Monday thinking about the missed chances, and not just by Williams.
"It doesn't surprise me," coach Jim Harbaugh said of players supporting Williams. "This is a class bunch of guys, a class group, a class team. They have never been a finger-pointing group."
Williams has spoken to his father, Chicago White Sox general manager Ken Williams, and also heard from players around the league who offered their support. Ken Williams told ESPN on Monday that his son might have separated his shoulder in the third quarter before making a pair of critical blunders.
Williams, filling in for injured return man Ted Ginn Jr., also fumbled with 11:06 left in regulation. The Giants won a challenge that the ball touched Williams' right knee and Devin Thomas recovered. That gave the Giants the ball back at the 29 and Eli Manning threw a 17-yard touchdown pass to Mario Manningham with 8:34 remaining.
The 23-year-old Williams, born in nearby San Jose, said Monday he still doesn't think the ball hit his knee, though replays appear to suggest it certainly did.
"I told him to keep his head up. Things happen like that when you're trying to make a play," running back Frank Gore said. "Kyle did a great job for us all year. We can't just point the finger at that. It's a football game. Things happen, and he'll be fine. He's going to work hard. He's a great player and he made great plays for us this year. I'm happy he's a teammate of mine. I'll back him up any time."
A year ago with the Eagles, Akers missed a pair of field goals in the NFC divisional playoffs as Philadelphia lost 21-16 to the eventual Super Bowl champion Green Bay Packers.
"I was that guy last year," Akers said. "It's tough because we're all competitors and we all give it everything we have. Kyle's made a lot of big plays for us. He's just trying to make plays out there. The weather conditions were horrible. I know he'd never give any excuses for any of that. I say this and I say it in the truest way: We win as a team, we lose as a team."
Williams, a second-year pro out of Arizona State, stood at his locker a day later and expressed his regret while also noting how eager he is to get back to work soon. Harbaugh said tests Monday on Williams' shoulder didn't reveal a separation but that he was extremely sore.
"Nobody feels worse than he does," linebacker Patrick Willis said. "Some of the stuff out there that I've seen, man, I was just like, `They're saying that because they're hurting.' But we live this game, we breathe this game, we sleep this game. If they feel that way, you can only imagine how bad he feels. You never want anyone to go through anything like that. It's just unfortunate that it happened to a player like him. To me, he's one of the best skill players in this game. … I'm sticking behind him. He's still my teammate."
Williams was a stand-up guy during his interview session with the media Monday in the 49ers locker room. Here's the transcript of what he said:
Q: Who did you talk to today that made you feel a little better about what happened last night?
Williams: My teammates, my teammates. And I couldn't be happier with the support they've given me. If anything, they've let me know that they have my back – it's not all on me and not to think about that. I'm very fortunate for the teammates that I have.
Q: There's a photo of you out there when you were flat on the ground. What were the emotions going through you then?
Williams: It's one of those feelings that you don't ever want to feel on the football field. (You never) want to give it up in a situation like that. It's painful. We're very passionate about what we do and we're very passionate about getting to the Super Bowl. To be able to be that close and not to get to it is painful, but hopefully we're going to get through it as a team and we'll be back.
Q: What's your reaction to your teammates pretty much having your back after what happened?
Williams: I've got the best teammates in the world.
Q: How do you bounce back from something like this?
Williams: You just bounce back and move through it. It's one of those things you have to learn from. You have to take full responsibility for it, which I do. It's something a mistake on and I'll move through it. I promise you that.
Q: Have you talked to your father or anybody else in the White Sox organization?
Williams: I talked to my dad, not the White Sox organization, but I talk to my dad every day. I talk to him and we agreed that it's something you learn from and get better from. You stand up and take responsibility as a man and you move through it. He just kept it real with me. We'll keep that conversation between us. It's just one of those things where he definitely had my back from since this whole thing started. He's going to continue to do so.
Q: Your dad was reported as saying that you separated your shoulder during the game. What's the situation with that?
Williams: In football, everybody is going to be dinged up here and there. If what he said was that it was the cause for any of the mistakes that were made, that's not it. I take full responsibility for the mistake that I did make. You have to play with what you got. I was dinged up. Everybody was dinged up. That's just football. Nobody is going to be 100 percent. I was going fine. It's just something that happened.
Q: Have you heard anything in support from anybody you didn't expect?
Williams: A couple guys around the league reached out from around the league that were supportive of me, which I didn't expect. But it was nice to see, it was nice to hear. Again, it's something that's going to help me moving forward.
Q: Your name was really blowing up on Twitter after the game. How do you deal with that?
Williams: You know what? I really didn't pay attention to Twitter. All the feedback I needed was family and friends, the guys in the locker room. That was all I needed because that's really all that matters when you come down to it, the guys who are wearing the same jersey as me and the family and friends who were close by.
Q: You could have not come out here and talked today and could have avoided the media for months and months.
Williams: It's one of those things you have to take accountability for. Everybody is responsible for what they do on the field. It's something that I was responsible for and I made a mistake and it's time to own up to it and move forward.
Q: We're you trying to too much on the play in overtime?
Williams: I don't think so. When you're out there, you want to make a play. You want to make a play for your team. We weren't exactly moving forward. It was one of those things where we needed something to spark us. I feel comfortable. I wouldn't go back and change it. Ten times out of 10, I wouldn't change it. It was one of those things where I was just trying to make something happen and the other guy on the other team made something happen. It's an unfortunate circumstance, but he made the play and I didn't.
Q: Did you try to shift the ball from your right to your left when that happened?
Williams: Yeah, I was just trying to get it into my right hand. He just made a good play. He got his hand in there and he poked it out.
Q: On the fourth-quarter fumble, did you know that the ball hit you?
Williams: I didn't think it hit me. I still don't think it hit me.
Q: Does this make you even more eager to get started on next season already?
Williams: Yeah, I can't wait to get back to work and work with these guys in this locker room and move forward and learn from it. I can't wait.
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