49ers Blog and Q&A

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September 7, 2012
Harbaugh shuts down questions on Kyle Williams


Jim Harbaugh will not be taking any more questions about Kyle Williams.

Williams is in the spotlight heading into Sunday's game because the team's primary punt returner, Ted Ginn, is unlikely to play with an ankle sprain suffered Aug. 26. Williams, of course, had two memorable miscues on punt returns while substituting for Ginn in the 49ers' last meaningful game.

Early in his Friday press conference, Harbaugh said, "We've always been extremely confident in Kyle as a returner, both as punt returner and a kickoff returner."

That was as far as he was willing to go on the subject. When a reporter revisited the topic toward the end of the session, Harbaugh shut him down. "We don't, we don't ... why'd you bring that up?" he asked. "Why would we be taking about that? When is enough enough?"

The reporter followed up by asking Harbaugh if he felt compelled to give Williams encouragement -- an "attaboy" -- going into the game. "I should ask you, why did you bring that up?" Harbaugh persisted while staring down the reporter. "Why do you continue to ask that question? What is the reasoning?"

Special teams coach Brad Seely, meanwhile, spoke at length about Williams' ability as a punt returner, saying he had "no worries" about him in Green Bay and that he encouraged Williams to be aggressive.

"He likes to attack it a little bit more," Seely said. "I think you see that maybe a little bit more out of him than you will out of other guys. I think it's because he has an extreme amount of confidence in his ability to catch the ball. And he's a really fine catcher."

Is Seely ok with that?

"Yeah," he said. "That's the way we want him to go play. We want him to go after it. Again, what we always say is, 'I'm not out there playing, it's your (Williams') play. Make a good one.'"

But going back to the NFC Championship game, was Williams too aggressive? Did he get too close to the first muffed punt?

"He did," Seely said. "Yeah, there's no doubt about it. Obviously that was a mistake and hopefully he learned from it. And we progress. Everybody has mistakes. Obviously, that was one that the whole world got to see. So I think he's rebounded nicely from it."

Williams was not available for interviews. After the exhibition game in Denver - the one in which Ginn was hurt - he said he was ready to handle the role of punt returner. "My confidence level is always at 100 percent," he said. "I don't feel uncomfortable at all back there."

Ginn officially is listed as questionable for Sunday even though he hasn't practiced all week. Brandon Jacobs (knee) also is listed as questionable.

-- 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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