Yes, you read the title right, and Niners Live is telling it like it is once again. This time we are turning our attention to Mr. unreliable himself, Cornerback K’waun Williams, who per Pro Football Focus currently has one of the worst coverage grades in the NFL.
How did we get here?
The 5’9 and 183-pound K’Waun Williams was one of the first of many signings by the new regime this past offseason agreeing to a one year contract after missing the 2016 season with an ankle injury for the Cleveland Browns. Williams surely did not disappoint in his first two seasons (2014-15) respectively, as Pro Football Focus rated him as one of just eight players to allow fewer than 1.0 yards per cover snap among cornerbacks with 200 or more snaps in slot coverage, with his 0.94-mark ranking seventh.
After coming on strong in the offseason, and Jimmie Ward being moved to the Free safety/eraser position, Williams seemed to be primed to solidify himself at the nickel cornerback position for Defensive Coordinator Robert Saleh and the 49ers in the first year of a new era. Williams also brought familiarity, having a history with current secondary coach Jeff Hafley who was one of his biggest supporters, and clearly put a good word in to convince the front office to give Williams a fresh start in the bay.
“I’ve always thought the world of him,” Hafley said this offseason, “and I know he can play. At the time, I thought he was one of the better nickel backs in the NFL, and I’m really, excited to have him. Just a great person. Works hard. Does the right things. He’s the kind of kid who battles his way through and always comes out on top” (via Eric Branch of SFGate.com).
After the first three games of the season, the 49ers decided to sign Williams to a three-year contract extension that would keep him under contract through 2020. “Since joining us this offseason, K’Waun has displayed every trait and characteristic we want to see from our players,” General Manager John Lynch said in a statement. “He is a tremendous competitor on the field and a true professional in our building. K’Waun has continued to get better and better every day and we wanted to ensure he would be a part of what we are building moving forward. I am really excited for both him and our team.”
Season Recap: So far in the 2017 season through six games Williams has amassed 31 tackles, two forced fumbles, just two passes defended and zero interceptions.
Is K’waun Willams Overrated?
The cold hard truth is, Williams stats don’t tell the full story on how sloppy and undisciplined his play has looked so far this year. Recently on Niners Live we discussed through the first quarter Rookie Ahkello Witherspoon as the biggest draft disappointment, and unfortunately, in Williams case he, too, has also not lived up to expectations. He currently grades out as the 112th best defensive back which ranks him as one of the worst in coverage in the league. Per Pro Football Focus (subscription required), Williams overall grade comes in at an underwhelming 36.2 overall, coverage 35.3, run defense 83.0, pass rush 61.6, total snaps 287, with 185 in coverage, 96 in run defense and 6 in pass rush.
His worst moment, however, came in week four against the Arizona Cardinals where on the last play of the game instead of staying glued to his man, he allowed Larry “the legend” Fitzgerald to get a clean release off the line of scrimmage and haul in the game-winning touchdown pass with just seconds left on the clock. To sum it all up Williams hasn’t displayed a much to be desired skill set and looks more like a casualty waiting to happen in coverage.
Important to note: Williams was beaten several times this past Sunday against the Washington Redskins and was penalized for defensive holding as well.
Did the front office jump the gun signing him to a contract extension so early in the season? Or can Williams rebound and show that he can indeed be a building block for the future of this young 49ers secondary? Stay tuned as we watch the saga of the 2017 season continue to unfold in week seven at home against the young gunner Dak Prescott and the Dallas Cowboys.
Please join us again soon on Niners Live, the home of the faithful fan and analyst from an objective/analytical lens, of course.
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All records, statistics, and accolades are courtesy of Pro-Football-Reference.com, Pro Football Focus, 49ers.com, ESPN.com, NFL.com unless otherwise indicated. Author, Irvin Johnson Staff Writer at Niners Live. Co-Author, Content Creator, Editor Sequoia Sims.