49ers' Williams: 'One of those things ... football happens'

649756.jpg

49ers' Williams: 'One of those things ... football happens'

SAN FRANCISCO -- Kyle Williams had returned all of two punts for the 49ers this season. Punt return duties, after all, were the domain of Ted Ginn.But with Ginn out after suffering a knee injury in last week's playoff victory over New Orleans, Williams was forced into service in the NFC championship game.And Williams lost two fumbles, including the back-breaking turnover with 9:32 to play in overtime at the San Francisco 24-yard line when Jacquian Williams stripped him of the ball and Devin Thomas recovered it. Five snaps later, Lawrence Tynes converted a 31-yard field goal to send the New York Giants to the Super Bowl against New England and the 49ers home."It was just one of those situations where I caught the ball, tried to hit it up field, tried to make a play and it ended up for the worst," a soft-spoken Williams said in a somber 49ers locker room.RATTO: Fair or not, Williams cast as 49ers villain
And the rainy weather?"I think everybody handled the weather OK," he said. "I don't know if that play was because of that or not. It was just one of those situations where the guy made a play. He caught me slipping and, you know, got the ball out."Earlier, in the fourth quarter, Williams muffed a Steve Weatherford punt, the ball glancing off his knee as he crept too close to it. Initially, it was called down, but replays showed it had indeed touched Williams, and the Giants had the ball at the 49ers 29-yard line after an alert Thomas recovered it.Five plays later, Eli Manning hit Mario Manningham for a 17-yard touchdown.Williams' two turnovers resulted in 10 points for the Giants. Not that his teammates were laying the blame at his feet. At least, not publicly."We're all a team," said defensive tackle Justin Smith. "We win together, we lose together, so that's how we do that."Quarterback Alex Smith was at a loss at what to say to Williams."What can you say?" Smith said with a shrug. "Obviously, we all know how committed he is, how much he wants to win, what part of this team he is, so it's not on him."And for that, Williams was thankful."You know, everybody in here -- it shows the resolve of this team -- everybody in here's come to me and told me to keep my head up, told me that's not on me, and we'll move forward," Williams said. "But it's just one of those things you hate to be the last guy to have the ball and to give it up that way, in that fashion, and to lose a game of this magnitude but it is what it is and we're going to move forward as a team and everybody in here has come to my back and kind of got me and patted me on the shoulder and said, it's not on you. So I couldn't be happier with my teammates."So what about being uncomfortable, given his relative inexperience returning punts this season?"(I felt) very comfortable," he said. "It wasn't any situation where I felt out of place and I think, throughout the game I showed that. It's just one of those things, man, football happens."

Report: 49ers UFA linebacker to visit Seahawks

Report: 49ers UFA linebacker to visit Seahawks

Gerald Hodges is in search of a new team and he's looking at a division rival of the 49ers.

The unrestricted free agent is scheduled to visit the Seahawks on Wednesday, according to ESPN.

Acquired in October of 2015 from Minnesota for a sixth-round pick, the four-year pro played in 25 games over the past two seasons with the 49ers.

In his time with San Francisco, the former fourth-round pick recorded three sacks, two interceptions and one fumble recovery.

But he was not considered a fit for the new 49ers under general manager John Lynch and coach Kyle Shanahan. Hodges was deactivated for a game late in the season at Atlanta for breaking team rules. He did not offer an explanation or apology

The 49ers have signed three linebackers through two weeks of free agency: Malcolm Smith, Brock Coyle and Dekoda Watson.

Donald Trump, Jim Harbaugh address Kaepernick's free agent status

Donald Trump, Jim Harbaugh address Kaepernick's free agent status

On the same day the FBI director announced members of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign are under investigation for colluding with Russia to influence the election, Trump turned his thoughts to Colin Kaepernick’s status as an NFL free agent.

And Jim Harbaugh, appearing on Pro Football Talk, suggested teams that are not showing interest in Kaepernick are making a mistake.

“I’ll tell you the same thing I tell them: I think he’s an outstanding player and I think he’s a great competitor who has proven it in games and has the ability to be not only an NFL starter but a great NFL player,” Harbaugh said Tuesday morning.

“He’ll have a great career and be a great quarterback, win championships.”

On Monday evening, during a rally in Kentucky, Trump made remarks about Kaepernick. In the lead-up to the November election, Kaepernick called Trump “openly racist” and said he would not vote for Hillary Clinton, either.

“And you know, your San Francisco quarterback? I’m sure nobody ever heard of him,” Trump said.

“There was an article today, it was reported that NFL owners don’t want to pick him up because they don’t want to get a nasty tweet from Donald Trump. Do you believe that? I just saw that. I just saw that. I said if I remember that one I’m gonna report it to the people of Kentucky. Because they like it when people actually stand for the American flag.”

Mike Freeman of Bleacher Report reported an AFC general manager told him there were three reasons Kaepernick has not signed. Some believe, according to the anonymous source, that Kaepernick can no longer play at a high level. Others “genuinely hate him” for kneeling during the national anthem as part of his protest of racial inequality in America.

And, “some teams fear the backlash from fans after getting him,” according to the report. “They think there might be protests or Trump will tweet about the team. I'd say that number is around 10 percent. Then there's another 10 percent that has a mix of those feelings.”

Kaepernick’s teammates voted him the winner of the Len Eshmont Award for courage and inspiration last season. It is historically the most prestigious award among 49ers players. But the 49ers have already signed veteran quarterbacks Brian Hoyer and Matt Barkley.

General manager John Lynch acknowledged last week on KNBR the odds of the 49ers bringing back Kaepernick are slim.

“I think the likelihood of that happening has gone down significantly. But we’re not going to close our mind or out options on anyone, including him,” Lynch said.

Even though there has been no reported interest in Kaepernick from any team around the league, Lynch said Kaepernick nearly signed with a team earlier during the free-agent signing period.

“I don’t know what happened to that market,” Lynch said. “He was, in everyone’s mind in this league, very close to signing a deal with a team at a really good number. And it fell through, apparently.”