San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Kyle Williams did not shy away from answering questions Monday following his two costly fumbles during the Niners’ overtime loss in the NFC Championship Game.
Williams was the recipient of a torrent of hateful Twitter posts after his team missed out on a spot in the Super Bowl with the 20-17 loss to the New York Giants Sunday night.
"You just bounce back and move through it," Williams said Monday, according to the San Jose Mercury News. "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 I made a mistake on. I’ll move through it. I promise you that."
In the wake of the emotional loss at soggy Candlestick Park, many Niners fans vented their frustrations at the second-year wide receiver, who was handling punt return duties Sunday in the absence of the injured Ted Ginn Jr.
Williams, the son of Chicago White Sox general manager Kenny Williams, coughed up a punt in overtime, setting up the Giants’ game-winning field goal.
Kenny Williams told ESPN Chicago his son sustained a shoulder injury during the third quarter. But the Niners wideout downplayed the injury report Monday.
"In football, everybody is going to be dinged up here and there," he said. "If (my dad) said 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."
The 23-year-old had already drawn the ire of the home faithful early in the fourth quarter, when a Giants punt grazed his leg and was recovered by the Giants. New York turned the miscue into a touchdown and a 17-14 lead.
"I hope you, youre wife, kids and family die, you deserve it," read one of the ugly tweets from an enraged 49ers fan.
"(San Francisco coach) Jim Harbaugh, please give @KyleWilliams_10 the game ball. And make sure it explodes when he gets in his car," read another post.
Williams dismissed the disparaging messages Monday, instead choosing to rely on the support of his teammates.
"All the feedback I needed was family and friends, the guys in the locker room," Williams said. "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."
Williams’ teammates rallied behind him, refusing to place any blame at the feet of the former Arizona State star.
"Everybody played a part in it. You can’t point fingers. That’s the easy thing to do. Anybody can point fingers to the next guy, but it’s a team game," said offensive tackle Anthony Davis, according to the Mercury News.
”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.”
Veteran kicker David Akers also defended his teammate via Twitter.
"I didn’t think this would happen but [people] need to get a grip! Leave Kyle alone! We win and lose as a team. Not from one person or play."
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.”
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,” 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, 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.”