Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports


Will John Lynch argue to keep Joe Williams off the roster?

Sep 1, 2017 at 10:10 AM


The status of running back Joe Williams, and whether or not he makes the 49ers' roster, will be one of the very first relationship tests for Kyle Shanahan and John Lynch.

The price the 49ers have paid with all of their transparency is that we all know Shanahan and Lynch disagreed on Williams hours before he was selected. Peter King chronicled San Francisco's draft efforts back in April and we learned Shanahan pressured Lynch to put Williams back on the draft board, where he eventually drafted the Utah running back.

"Screw it," Lynch said to himself Saturday morning, via King. "I'm going to try to jump up and get this guy."

Four months later, the topic of Williams could become the first heated battle between a head coach and general manager who have been singing out of the same hymnal since their hiring in February.

If Williams was the undrafted signee and Matt Breida was the fourth-round pick, the 49ers would be releasing Williams this weekend -- without question.

Outside of a couple of flashes in practice and the preseason, Williams has been lagging behind. Breida was deemed so important, he didn't play in the preseason finale. Some 49ers assistant coaches were aware of how this storyline would play out way back in May.


Williams, on the other hand, fumbled twice against the Chargers on Thursday. He isn't a strong receiver. He hasn't been consistent. Couple that with the fact that Raheem Mostert is a special teams ace capable of making big plays and the evidence is just piling up against Williams. Lynch's initial thought process of keeping him off the draft board probably was the right play for the 49ers.

Lynch is not a vindictive person by any stretch of the imagination, but this is possibly the first time he can speak up and argue Shanahan was wrong on a player. Keeping Williams could mean the 49ers lose somebody such as Victor Bolden Jr., Adrian Colbert or Kendrick Bourne -- all rookies who have been entirely more productive than Williams in training camp and the preseason.

These are the tough conversations where egos have to be put aside. These are the types of conversations for which former GM Trent Baalke used to alienate staff members instead of collaborate. Other football players deserve to make San Francisco's roster over Williams. In front of the entire personnel department and coaching staff, is Lynch willing to convince his head coach this is the right course of action? Is Shanahan willing to admit his talent evaluation was wrong?

The question becomes if you keep Williams, will he even be active on game day? NFL rules limit the 49ers to dressing just 46 players each Sunday. If Williams spends his entire rookie season in street clothes, while Breida is thriving, the former Utah running back will essentially enter 2018 as a rookie. The new regime will bring in another rookie running back next season to compete. Williams' clock will be ticking.

I totally understand the argument to be patient with Williams. There are plenty of stories around the league of a player underwhelming during his first August and turning the corner his second season. This new 49ers regime probably won't want to completely give up on the second-ever offensive player it drafted. Injuries can also mount up at running back. Carlos Hyde is also a free agent after this season. It's never a bad idea to stockpile at this position.

But Shanahan has been a wizard with rookie running backs before. Alfred Morris and Isaiah Crowell each were setting franchise records in Washington and Cleveland. Why isn't it clicking for Williams yet? He also showed up out of shape during spring workouts – after Lynch had already red flagged his love for football.

The other problem is that two other mid-round draft picks are already considered long-term projects. Third-round cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon isn't ready for quality playing time. C.J. Beathard has looked fantastic for a rookie, but going against a real NFL defense will be a mighty challenge. Solomon Thomas, Reuben Foster and George Kittle will have large roles -- Williams was expected to be in that group when he was picked.

It had been reported that Lynch had final say on the NFL Draft and Shanahan had final say on the 53-man roster, but both men have reiterated every decision will be made together.

In particular, it's Shanahan who has long said he doesn't care about how much money a player earns, or where he was selected in the NFL Draft.

"It's about picking the best 53 football players," Shanahan said.

Can that mantra really be the case if the 49ers keep Joe Williams?
The views within this article are those of the writer and, while just as important, are not necessarily those of the site as a whole.


3 Comments

  • Reg Brown
    Do not agree. If you look at Jerry Rice first year, you will find him dropping pass weekly. The Sport writers were questioning Bill Walsh every week about why he was keeping him around. Of course, Bill saw Rice differently then the writers. Number 80 became the G.O.A.T. Patience, my friends. Niners for Life.
    Sep 1, 2017 at 11:27 AM
    16
  • NCommand
    Welcome...great stuff!
    Sep 1, 2017 at 10:55 AM
    24
  • MT9er
    Every roster projection I've seen has them keeping four running backs and a fullback. If that ends up being the case, there is no way you're going to convince me that Williams is in jeopardy of getting cut. If you're suggesting they might only go with three backs, then I suppose the argument takes on a tiny tiny bit of validity
    Sep 1, 2017 at 10:47 AM
    16

Facebook Comments



More San Francisco 49ers News



49ers-Jets: Ahkello Witherspoon has cleared concussion protocol, will replace Richard Sherman, says John Lynch

By David Bonilla
Sep 18, 2020

San Francisco 49ers general manager John Lynch joined KNBR on Friday morning and provided several injury updates. Among them was news that cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon has cleared the concussion protocol and will start in place of Richard Sherman this weekend against the New York Jets. Sherman was placed on short-term injured reserve this week and will miss at least the next three games. Lynch did note that his calf strain is unrelated to his previous Achilles injury. The general manager saw Sherman after the game and noted, "It wasn't pretty the way he was walking." That, along with discussions with Sherman, led the 49ers to sideline the All-Pro cornerback for a few games. Witherspoon will fill in for the veteran cornerback and play

Read the Full Article


John Lynch: 49ers awaiting test results on Dee Ford; injury updates on George Kittle, Brandon Aiyuk

By David Bonilla
Sep 18, 2020

San Francisco 49ers general manager John Lynch joined KNBR on Friday morning and provided some injury updates heading into the team's Week 2 matchup against the New York Jets on Sunday. The latest injury is to pass rusher Dee Ford, who Lynch said came in with some neck stiffness this week. "We sent him for some imaging, and we're waiting to kind of hear those results here this morning," Lynch added. "We'll let you know as we know." Tight end George Kittle suffered a knee sprain right before halftime during the 49ers' loss to the Arizona Cardinals this past weekend. He has not practiced yet this week but could still play on Sunday. "He did sprain his knee," Lynch said. "Is it out of the question that he plays? No. George is obviously very

Read the Full Article


John Lynch believes Jimmy Garoppolo, 49ers will respond to adversity

By David Bonilla
Sep 19, 2020

The criticism was expected. The hope was that after shouldering much of the blame for the San Francisco 49ers' fourth-quarter collapse in Super Bowl LIV, quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo would come out against the Arizona Cardinals and silence his critics. That didn't happen. Garoppolo's numbers weren't terrible, but the 49ers still lost their regular-season opener last weekend. The quarterback always takes on much of the glory after a victory. He also endures much of the blame after a defeat. Garoppolo's struggles were apparent to those who watched the game and didn't solely rely on the stat sheet. Garoppolo was asked this past week to offer up a self-evaluation from Week 1 and share what he feels needs improvement. "I think there's

Read the Full Article

Featured

More Featured Stories

More by Kevin Jones

  • No more articles found

More Articles

All Articles
Share 49erswebzone