Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Pro Football Focus names K’Waun Williams as 49ers’ most underrated player

May 27, 2020 at 10:54 AM--

The San Francisco 49ers' group of cornerbacks could look very different next season, with most of its members preparing to play on the final year of their current deals. One of those players is nickel corner K'Waun Williams.

Ben Linsey of Pro Football Focus this week named each NFL team's most underrated player, and Williams was his selection for the 49ers.

"Some guys are household names who don't get the kind of attention they deserve when discussing the league's best players," wrote Linsey. "Some are known by few nationally outside of their own fanbases. Some are undervalued even by their own fans. The common theme is that all 32 are deserving of more love and recognition for what they do."

Williams was among general manager John Lynch and head coach Kyle Shanahan's first signings upon joining the 49ers in 2017. He has racked up 150 tackles, nine for a loss, three interceptions, nine passes defensed, and three forced fumbles in three seasons with San Francisco.

Linsey wrote the following about Williams:

"Even as an undrafted rookie out of Pittsburgh, Williams showed early on that there was a place for him in the NFL in the slot. His 90.3 coverage grade during his 2014 rookie season on 350 defensive snaps speaks for itself. In his four seasons of action with both the Cleveland Browns and 49ers, Williams has remained a quality option inside. The only two qualifying cornerbacks with a better overall grade in the slot than Williams since 2014 are Chris Harris Jr. and Desmond King II. His play was an underrated component of San Francisco's success on defense in 2019, and he'll likely be a big reason for the team's continued success next season."

Veteran defender Richard Sherman, who knows a thing or two about cornerback play, praised Williams in November while lobbying to get his teammate's name on the Pro Bowl ballot. He was successful, by the way.

"He is just so dynamic in every phase," Sherman said of Williams. "If you just look at him and his pass-rushing ability on its own, it's outstanding. If you look at him in terms of just coverage ability, it's outstanding. If you look at him in terms run [support], it's outstanding.

"And so he just brings the complete package of playmaking ability, and I think that supersedes position. I think that his playmaking ability is what allows our defense to go ... But [Williams is] a huge playmaker for us, and that's what allows us to play the type of defense we do."

There's another name on the list that should be familiar to 49ers fans. It is Dolphins running back Matt Breida, who was traded from San Francisco to Miami in April.

Writes Linsey:

"[Breida] has some serious wheels, coming in as the NFL's fastest ball carrier during each of the last two seasons per Next Gen Stats. He also is one of just two qualifying running backs with over 40% of his rushing yardage coming on 15-plus yard runs in both 2018 and 2019. The committee approach in San Francisco and injuries have kept down his usage, but that doesn't make Breida any less of a big-play threat as both a runner and receiver."

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