Kyle Williams, the 49ers' do-everything wideout, is out for the season with a torn ACL, Williams announced on Twitter Monday. Both Williams and running back Kendall Hunter were hurt on the same play in the third quarter and both had to be taken off the field. Hunter injured his ankle.
"Regret to inform y'all I will be out for the season with a torn ACL,''Williams wrote. "Not how I saw things playing out, but in the end I will be fine. ... This is just another obstacle. I will have to climb back."
Williams was vilified for his two muffed punts in the NFC Championship game in January but had gone a long way toward repairing his reputation in the Bay Area. He handled punt-return duties when Ted Ginn was injured early in the season and stepped in Sunday in New Orleans when Ginn was battling a wrist issue. Williams also was the 49ers' emergency quarterback if the two regular quarterbacks got hurt in a game.
The 49ers are likely to place Williams on injured reserve, which would open up a roster spot. They could elevate someone from the practice squad or they could sign a new player. Philadelphia-based NFL reporter Adam Caplan Tweeted today that the 49ers were interested in signing former Eagles receiver and return man Chad Hall, who also Tweeted, "California, California, here we cooooooome" on Monday.
The 49ers said there have been no moves so far with Hall, who played at the Air Force Academy and was a free-agent pickup for Philadelphia in 2010. Hall (5-8, 187) appeared in 15 games in 2010 and '11 for the Eagles, and was used a lot like the 49ers used Williams - as a receiver, punt returner and kick returner.
The 49ers also have options already on the roster. Neither of the team's top two draft picks, A.J. Jenkins and LaMichael James, has played a snap so far this season. James could help fill the void left by Hunter and Williams because he is a running back who has been working on punt returns. James and quarterback Colin Kaepernick, meanwhile, also seemed to develop a nice rapport over the offseason and were particularly dangerous running the read-option together in the preseason.
"There's a good chance that there will be some new active guys on Sunday," Jim Harbaugh said Monday. "Going to send that message to some of our young guys, some of our inactive guys that the opportunity is coming. And you say that every week to them - that you've got to just be prepared, be prepared. ... To both those youngsters credit -- and others who have been working extremely hard for their opportunity -- you feel good and excited that a couple of youngsters will get that opportunity."
Other punt-return options on the team include cornerback Perrish Cox and Jenkins, who has been taking after-practice repetitions at the position in recent weeks. Hunter, meanwhile, also is the 49ers backup kick returner.
Another factor to consider is Ginn's wrist injury. If it is serious, the 49ers may be looking for someone with experience like Hall. Hall presumably would be familiar with the 49ers' West Coast offense lexicon having played in Philadelphia.
- Matt Barrows