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


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."

Mark Helfrich provides insight into Chip Kelly's line of thinking

Mark Helfrich provides insight into Chip Kelly's line of thinking

Mark Helfrich had a strong indication he would be fired as Oregon’s head coach. And he said he told Chip Kelly recently he would have no hard feelings if Kelly left the 49ers to return to coach the Ducks.

Kelly this week said he is not interested in abandoning his job with the 49ers to coach in the college ranks. Helfrich suggested during a radio interview on Friday that Kelly told him the same thing privately.

When it was suggested that Kelly hated to recruit, Helfrich did not disagree.

"That's a fact," Helfrich said in an interview on ESPN Radio's Russillo and Kanell. "I don't know hated recruiting. . . a dislike. A strong dislike. But I think Chip has that challenge in his mind right now to make it right in the NFL.

"I had some of those conversations with him a couple weeks ago when it looked like this was going south. That was a very awkward converation, but (I) just wanted to let him know that to take our personal relationship out of it in every way, shape or form if he wanted to consider this.

"But, me, reading between the lines, I think he wants to make it right in the NFL. I think he wants to win at that level. He's had a rough go of it this year, but he'll get it right."

Kelly compiled a 46-7 record in four seasons in Eugene, Ore. He left after the 2012 season to accept the head-coaching job with the Philadelphia Eagles. Kelly was fired late last season and took the 49ers job two weeks later.

In Kelly’s first season with the 49ers, the club is 1-10. The 49ers are on a franchise-long 10-game losing streak entering Sunday’s game against the Chicago Bears.

Helfrich was 37-16 in his four seasons at Oregon after his promotion from offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. Kelly said he spoke with Helfrich the morning after he was fired.

“I just felt bad for Mark. I love him like a brother,” Kelly said. “He’s a tremendous person. He’s a hell of a football coach, but he’s an even better person. Just felt for him and the rest of the guys on that staff. It’s an unfortunate thing that goes on in this profession. We all know about it when we sign up, but when it happens you’re still taken aback by it.”

Kelly said he hoped his denial of any interest in the Oregon job would end all speculation about his future. When asked if intends to remain with the 49ers, Kelly said on Wednesday, “Yep. So we're all done with that, I hope."

Injury report: Dial set to return for 49ers; Patton, Lynch questionable

Injury report: Dial set to return for 49ers; Patton, Lynch questionable

Defensive lineman Quinton Dial, who sat out last week’s game with knee and neck issues, will return to action Sunday for the 49ers at Soldier Field against the Chicago Bears.

Dial was not listed on the team’s injury report after going through two limited practices this week. The 49ers had only a walk-through Friday in Orlando, Fla., but Dial was cleared to return to full activity, the team announced.

Wide receiver Quinton Patton (concussion) and outside linebacker Aaron Lynch (ankle) were both listed as questionable for Sunday’s game.

Patton appears to be on pace to be cleared in the NFL’s return-to-play concussion protocol. He has returned to non-contact football activity after sustaining a head injury last week against the Miami Dolphins.

Lynch has already missed four consecutive games with a high-ankle sprain. Lynch has appeared in only three games this season. He sat out the first four games of the year while serving a four-game suspension for violating the leageu’s policy of substances of abuse.

The Bears listed six players as questionable for the game, including outside linebackers Willie Young and rookie Leonard Floyd. Young leads Chicago with 6.5 sacks, while Floyd is second with five sacks.

Quarterback Jay Cutler has been ruled out for the remainder of the season with a shoulder injury. Matt Barkley will make his second career start.

LB Aaron Lynch (ankle)
WR Quinton Patton (concussion)

QB Jay Cutler (right shoulder)
LB Willie Young (knee)
S Adrian Amos (foot)
WR Eddie Royal (toe)
LB Leonard Floyd (concussion)
CB Deiondre' Hall (ankle)
G Josh Sitton (ankle)