The San Francisco 49ers traded up in the fourth round to select running back Joe Williams, but not until after Williams himself had convinced GM John Lynch he was worth a pick. Lynch did not think Williams was worth including on the board due to his decision to leave the Utah football team last year.
We’ve learned plenty about that at this point, but it is not surprising to learn that at least one other team had him off their board. Williams said in a recent interview that the Los Angeles Rams did not have him on their board. The interview was part of NFL.com’s quick-hitting “Oklahoma drill” interview series. They have players offer short answers to a variety of questions.
In Williams’ interview, they asked him who he most looked forward to facing. He cited the Rams, saying, “especially because of what happened in the draft and taking me off their boards.”
I imagine there were several teams that had removed Williams from the board. He went through a tough time that deserves some understanding, but football teams are in the business of winning football games. The more disgusting side of it is when they show no qualms about adding domestic abusers. However, teams will quickly move past actually deserving players if they think players are not fully committed to football.
Williams needed the time to deal with the mental issues surrounding his sister’s death a decade before. He talked to NFL.com about how society diminishes mental illness, regardless of the context of it.
It's not just diminished in the eyes of the NFL but in the entire world. Society always thinks of mental health as something you throw blinds at because you hear crazy and you take a step back. For me, with the help of my wife, mom and dad and close family members, it's a strong thing. We're a close family and just having that support allowed me to really pick up my spirits, and I really benefited for the long haul that season when I came back.
Thankfully for Williams, he had Kyle Shanahan and Bobby Turner going to the mat for him. It remains to be seen how his pro career will turn out, but he is getting that critical first chance. He’s got loads of talent, and playing for Shanahan and Turner could be the ideal landing spot for Williams.