Since botching two punt returns in the NFC Championship Game loss to the Giants last season, Kyle Williams has been nothing but honest.
He’s accepted blame, answered every question about the experience and put it behind him while working hard to improve and contribute to the 2012 49ers.
Now, as the 4-1 Niners prepare to face the Giants this Sunday at Candlestick Park in a rematch of January’s overtime loss, Williams is honest again.
While many pro athletes will tell the media that no game is bigger than any other, Williams is saying this game is special.
Yes, he says, he wants to play well against the Giants.
“There are a few teams I look forward to,” he told Cam Inman of the Bay Area News Group this week. “Of course, after what happened last year, I want to get back at these guys.”
Added Williams: “We look at it as they have something we should have had. We’re not going to leave anything on the field this time.”
One story out of New York, by Alex Raskin of CBS Sports, suggested that Williams’ quotes indicated he believed “the Giants were the inferior team” in January’s NFC title game, and the story carried the headline: “49ers WR Kyle Williams provides bulletin board quote for Giants.”
But Williams didn’t really say that. In fact, he told Inman that wanting to beat any team that had beaten you the previous season would be natural, a game players would circle on their calendars.
“It’s nothing other than any other team that beat us last year – if the Ravens were on there, we look at Arizona, they beat us last year,” he said. “It’s not totally out of the ordinary. You want to win every single game.”
Plus, Williams knows – and has acknowledged, time and again – that his two misplays on punts were key in helping the Giants win the game in overtime, 20-17.
Williams also said this week that he doesn’t believe the Giants were targeting him in that game because they knew he’d suffered several concussions previously, as some New York players said later.
At no time, says Williams, did he feel that the Giants in that game were trying to injure him. It was just football.
“I don’t think it was something that was a major focal point of them – making sure they knocked me out of the game,” he told Kevin Lynch of the San Francisco Chronicle. “It sounds stupid when you look back at it. You are playing football. Everybody is trying to get to the ball and everyone is trying to make a play on the ball.”
Williams is coming off his best game of this young season. Last week in a 45-3 win over Buffalo, he had two catches for 50 yards, including a 43-yard touchdown catch. He has four catches overall, for 66 yards, and has made two starts.
This season he’s also returned four punts for 52 yards (a 13.0 average) and six kickoffs for 214 yards (a 35.7 average), with two of more than 40 yards.
As Inman noted in a blog Tuesday, 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh has consistently supported Williams, despite his miscues in last year’s NFC Championship Game, and praised his work ethic and contributions this year. When Harbaugh was asked about Williams’ errors against the Giants last season on a radio show Tuesday, Inman reported: “Harbaugh cut off the question in anticipation that it was headed to familiar ‘bull crap,’ Harbaugh then continued to praise Williams’ contributions.”
Harbaugh may be looking forward to Sunday, too.