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With all the hype surrounding San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick being a talented baseball player, many people tend to forget that 49ers wide receiver Kyle Williams was also a highly recruited baseball prospect coming out of High School. In fact, unlike Kaepernick Williams went on to be a two-sport athlete while attending Arizona State University as he was later drafted by the Chicago White Sox in the 47th round of the 2006 MLB Draft. However, Williams decided to pursue his dream as an NFL receiver and was drafted by the 49ers in the sixth-round (No. 206) of the 2010 NFL Draft. And the move seemed to be the right one.
In Williams' first three seasons, he has not only been a standout special teams player but a reliable slot receiver. A apparition General Manager Trent Baalke envisioned while drafting the Arizona State product, Baalke had high praise for his young speedy receiver, saying:
He's very competitive. He has the quickness you're looking for in an undersized player. Slot receivers have to have quick hands and this guy can snatch it.
Through Williams' first three seasons, he has accumulated 35 receptions for 461 yards and four touchdowns. In addition to receiving, Williams has done an admirable job in the return game by returning 21 kickoffs for 539 yards (25.6 average). And although Williams will mostly be remembered for his notorious fumbles during the 2012 NFC Championship Game, a game in which the San Jose Mercury News posted my picture on the front page right after his last fumble, that seems to be water under the bridge now as the Forever Faithful have been supporting him last season.
So with star wide receiver Michael Crabtree out with a torn achilles injury, how will Williams fare in 2013? Although I have always been a strong believer that rookie wide receiver Quinton Patton is by far the best of the bunch, I believe Williams will have his best season yet playing the slot.
A position that requires sure hands and fluid route running, Williams will be counted on more than ever. Having already been accustomed to 49ers offensive coordinator Greg Roman's offense for two years now, Williams has the upper hand in terms of terminology, hot-reads, and overall grasp of the playbook. And that will only help Williams as I predict him to come out of the gates blazing, with a stat line similar to 15 receptions for 240 yards and three touchdowns in the 49ers first four games. Those games include Green Bay, Seattle, Indianapolis, and St. Louis. All of those games are great matchups for Williams in the slot, as he is quick enough to find the soft spots in zone.
His production will slow down once Patton and Jenkins come up to speed with the playbook, but in the beginning do not be surprised if Williams is among the team lead in receptions, yards, or touchdowns.
With the new season upon us, it will be interesting to see how these young core of receivers play out, as they all have the potential to produce big numbers in 2013.
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