49ers Blog and Q&A

News, notes and reader questions about the San Francisco 49ers

January 23, 2012
Moving on: Why future looks bright for the 49ers


Twitter follower Tony Barber, aka @shinehart, tweeted me earlier today with plea likely echoed by many 49ers fans: "Matt, it's 16 hrs later & I'm still heartbroken. Can you say something to make me feel better?"

Well, here's something that I think bodes very well for the 49ers moving forward. Kyle Williams easily could have hidden out today and avoided the media until the team held its first OTA in May. Instead, he walked up to his locker and answered questions for more than four minutes.

"It's one of those things you have to take accountability for," said Williams, who was moving the ball from one hand to the other when he fumbled in overtime Sunday. "Everybody is responsible for what they do on the field. It's something that I was responsible for and I made a mistake and it's time to own up to it and move forward."

Williams also shrugged off reports that quoted his father, White Sox GM Ken Williams, that he was playing with a dislocated shoulder on Sunday. "In football, everybody is going to be dinged up here and there," he said. "If what he said was that it was the cause for any of the mistakes that were made, that's not it. I take full responsibility for the mistake that I did make. You have to play with what you got. I was dinged up. Everybody was dinged up. That's just football. Nobody is going to be 100-percent. I was going fine. It's just something that happened."

Those words alone, of course, are not going to make any 49ers fan feel better about how the season. But Williams showed true backbone in standing under the spotlight and, more than that, was encouraged by the support he's received from his teammates, who, to a man, spoke fondly of Williams and said they didn't blame him for the loss.

That camaraderie and support should be encouraging to 49ers followers. While other locker rooms - I'm looking at you, New York Jets - could have turned rancid after an ending like the 49ers had, San Francisco's was still very tight, very supportive and very hungry for the future on Monday.

Said guard Adam Snyder, who was one of the first 49ers to Tweet support for Williams after the game: "This is the best team I've been on. The entire locker room is full of guys who are committed, guys who have character, the type of guys you want in the locker room. We have them. Yeah, this is the best team I've been on by far."

"Guys are friends, not just teammates," Snyder continued. "And I don't know if it's like that everywhere. So this is a special place. There's a special thing here that is going to keep guys here for a long time."

Cornerback Shawntae Spencer said he'll go into the season not knowing what the future has in store. Spencer, who was lightly used this season, is signed through 2012 but didn't know if he and the 49ers would part ways.

"I've been on that right corner since I've been here,' Spencer said. "It's like seeing my lady with another guy." Spencer said he's talked to ex-49ers Walt Harris, Michael Lewis and Nate Clements - the two will hang out in the Bay Area this week - about his situation.

The best advice, however, may have come from his brother, who picked up on the lady-with-another-man theme. "There's plenty of women out there," Spencer said.

Defensive end Justin Smith cleaned up on the team awards. The defensive-player-of-the-year candidate won the Bill Walsh Award (voted on by coaches for team MVP), the Matt Hazeltine Award (most courageous and inspirational 49er) and the biggest honor, the Len Eshmont Award, which goes to the team's "most inspirational and courageous" player.

Alex Smith won the Ed Block Courage Award while rookie Cory Nelms, a cornerback on the practice squad, won the Thomas Herrion Award given to an up-and-coming young player.

-- Matt Barrows


Matt was born in Blacksburg, Va., and attended the University of Virginia. He graduated in 1995, went to Northwestern for a journalism degree a year later, and got his first job at a South Carolina daily in 1997. He joined The Bee as a Metro reporter in 1999 and started covering the 49ers in 2003. His favorite player of all time is Darrell Green.


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