Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports



Tom Pelissero of NFL Network is reporting that San Francisco 49ers fourth-round draft pick Joe Williams is headed to injured reserve with an ankle injury. According to the Sacramento Bee, the existing injury was aggravated during Thursday's preseason finale against the Los Angeles Chargers. The 49ers traded up to select the running back out of Utah with the 15th pick in the fourth round (121 overall) of the 2017 NFL Draft.


Through three preseason games, Williams has carried the football 18 times for 70 yards. He has also been the recipient of three passes for 13 yards.

For personal reasons, Williams decided to retire from football early in 2016 during his time with the Utes, but following injuries to Utah's running backs, returned and finished the year in the top 20 nationally with 1,420 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns through nine games.

Williams was not on the 49ers' draft board heading into the draft. It took some soul searching and a phone call with Williams to change the mind of 49ers general manager John Lynch, who was originally against drafting Williams because of his decision to leave the college game. Williams had left Utah after dealing with the grief of the death of his sister when he was 13 years old. Peter King of TheMMQB revealed that Williams was diagnosed with manic depression following the devastating loss.

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"It was just the process of going through that tragedy in my life and just understanding that taking that time away allowed me to deal with the grief," Williams told NFL Network in May. "And when I came back, I just wanted to prove everybody wrong. You know -- family, friends -- just everybody that was looking at me. Everybody."

Williams went on to describe to NFL Network what it was like speaking to Lynch during the draft.

"[Lynch] had called me about an hour before the clock starting ticking," Williams said. "It was just an honor just to speak to him on the phone, being a Bronco great. I loved the Broncos. (They were) my favorite team for just -- you know, 49ers are my team now. Just laying it all out in there for him. The entire story of my whole life and letting him understand that -- have the peace of mind that if he gave me the opportunity -- which he did -- to play for the 49ers. I'm just glad to be part of this organization and ready to go to work."

Head coach Kyle Shanahan campaigned for Williams on the day prior to Williams' selection. That is what kicked off Lynch's decision to revisit the possibility of drafting the running back.

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