Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports picks K’Waun Williams as 49ers player most likely to earn first-time Pro Bowl selection

Jul 14, 2020 at 12:13 PM--

Would it be frustrating to watch a San Francisco 49ers player earn his first Pro Bowl selection in his final season with the team? Marc Sessler of went team-by-team and selected one future first-time Pro Bowler for each. For San Francisco, he selected cornerback K'Waun Williams.

Williams is entering the final season of his three-year deal and, like fellow cornerbacks Richard Sherman and Ahkello Witherspoon, is scheduled to hit free agency in 2021.

Sessler notes in his column that he was initially going to pick Raheem Mostert. Then the running back's agent requested a trade. The writer does note that Mostert would be walking away from a fantastic situation and a potential "monster campaign" if he leaves head coach Kyle Shanahan and the 49ers.

Deebo Samuel was also an option, but Sessler was concerned about the foot injury that will sideline the second-year wide receiver until at least the start of the regular season. Who knows if it will limit him into the season, too?

"So I'm dialing up Williams, who emerged as PFF's seventh-highest graded corner inside San Francisco's Super Bowl defense," wrote Sessler. "Allowing but one touchdown on 73 targets, Williams rightfully found a home on colleague Cynthia Frelund's list of the NFL's most underappreciated players this spring. His teammates know the outside world is sluggish to catch up, with fullback Kyle Juszczyk recently calling Williams 'the most underrated player in the league.' The obstacle here is more playing time, but Williams rolls into 2020 as a key component inside a white-knuckle defense."

Williams has gained so much respect among his teammates that he has earned the nickname "The Shark." Veteran cornerback Richard Sherman petitioned to get Williams added to the Pro Bowl ballot last season, and it worked. While Sherman was selected to his fifth Pro Bowl, however, Williams didn't get the nod.

Sherman and Williams, this offseason, were named the highest-graded cornerback duo by analytics site Pro Football Focus. The former earned the highest overall regular-season grade of 88.9 among eligible cornerbacks while the latter's 77.2 overall grade ranked as the eighth-best. Counting postseason play boosts Williams' mark to 80.3, which is good enough to rank No. 6.

The Cleveland Browns signed Williams as an undrafted free agent out of Pittsburgh in 2014. It's not a Pro Bowl nod, but he was named to Pro Football Focus' All-Rookie Team that season.

San Francisco signed Williams in 2017. He recorded 51 tackles, two interceptions, a sack, four quarterback hits, two passes defended, and four forced fumbles through 15 games last season, according to Pro Football Reference.

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