(This is Part 4 in a series that will spotlight five 49ers players to watch in the team's exhibition opener against the Minnesota Vikings on Friday, 6 p.m., at Candlestick Park.)
Five 49ers to watch: 5. Alex Boone
Five 49ers to watch: 4. Perrish Cox
Five 49ers to watch: 3. Demarcus Dobbs
The 49ers have a deep stable of wide receivers. Kyle Willams is competing for a spot. Look for the 49ers to keep six wideouts on their 53-man roster.The 49ers are also looking for a clear picture in the return game. Ted Ginn should be a lock. Currently, coach Jim Harbaugh considers Williams as the No. 2 man on punt returns.Of course, we all know what happened the last time the 49ers played. Williams' two turnovers on punt returns were pivotal developments in the team's overtime loss to the New York Giants in the NFC championship game.How does Harbaugh expect the home fans to react to Williams on Friday night?"To Kyle? He's a 49er. He's one of us," Harbaugh said.Clearly, Harbaugh would be disappointed in 49ers fans if they did not give Williams anything but their unconditional support.Williams handled the disappointment of his playoff experience with aplomb. He made himself available and accountable while addressing the topic with the media. He had a determined offseason, using the turnovers as fuel to come back faster and stronger.Williams had a strong offseason program. And he got off to a good start in training camp. He has put himself in prime position to earn a roster spot. Even 49ers CEO Jed York expressed his wish for Williams to have a "breakout" season.
But Williams struggled on Wednesday with a muffed punt and a couple of drops. Then, Harbaugh ordered him off the field after Williams got into a brief "scuffle" -- Harbaugh's word -- with rookie cornerback Deante' Purvis.There is more pressure on Williams than any other player. It does not matter that it's just an exhibition game. He will definitely return punts. And it will not be easy. After all, the capricious winds at Candlestick Park are generally worse during this time of year than any other.