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October 9, 2012
Williams, 49ers say Giants weren't head-hunting in January

kwilliams.jpg

Kyle Williams swept aside the just-another-game clichés Tuesday and acknowledged what nearly every 49ers player is feeling this week: A burning desire to avenge the championship-game loss to the Giants on Sunday.

"After what happened last year I definitely want to get back at these guys," Williams said. "We look at it as if they have something that we should have had. We're going to make sure we don't leave anything on the field again."

What Williams left on the field on Jan. 22, of course, was the football. The 49ers had a long list of regrets after the 20-17 loss, including two easy interceptions that were dropped, a fumble recovery wiped away by a quick whistle from the officials and the fact that their wideouts combined for one catch for three yards.

Williams' two turnovers on punt returns, however, stood out. The second one set up Lawrence Tynes' game-winning field goal in overtime. Those mistakes and the animus - still ongoing - that followed sparked a feverish offseason of work by Williams, who was called too slight and too fragile when he was drafted by the 49ers in the sixth round in 2010.

He returned in the spring bigger, bulkier and confident that he could atone for his championship-game gaffes. He's been virtually mistake-free in five games this season.
He caught his first touchdown pass - a 43 yarder - in Sunday's win over the Bills, and he has four catches for 66 yards overall. He handled punt and kick returns while Ted Ginn missed the first three games with an ankle sprain, and he retained the job of kick returner - thanks largely to two big returns in Minnesota - even though Ginn is back.

He said he was conscious of being too eager for Sunday's rematch with New York. "I'm comfortable in the way I approach every single game," he said. "I'll be comfortable this week going into it. I can't wait. I'm not trying to do too much. We don't need anyone to do too much on this team. Everybody plays their role and does what they have to do. We'll be fine. We're a great team."

After the January game, the Giant who caused Williams' second fumble, Jacquian Williams, and the player who recovered the ball, Devin Thomas, said they were aware of Kyle Williams' concussion history - he had had four, Jacquian Williams said - including one a month earlier against Seattle. They said they thought Williams would be vulnerable to a big hit.

A week earlier, former Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams also noted Kyle Williams' concussions in his now infamous speech the day before the divisional playoff game at Candlestick Park.

Special teams players who were on the field on Jan. 22 said Tuesday they didn't hear any talk from the Giants about Williams' concussion history. Williams also said he didn't think it was "a major focal point for them to make sure they knocked me out of the game."

"It sounds stupid when you look back it," he said. "We're playing football. Everybody is going to try to get to the ball. Everybody is going to try to make a play on the ball. That's football. I don't pay too much attention to anything like that."

Since the spring, the 49ers have talked about the bitter taste left by the championship game loss, and many have said the bad memory fueled their offseason work. Said cornerback Carlos Rogers: "I mean, this is the team that knocked us out from going to the show. There's going to be a little more on each player just to try and win a game against those guys because, I mean, they're the defending champions."

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The 49ers added outside linebacker Clark Haggans to the 53-man roster and cut linebacker Eric Bakhtiari. Haggans, 35, served a three-game suspension related to a DUI conviction in 2011.



MATTHEW 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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