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Will Joe Williams actually be a big part of the 49ers in the future?

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The 49ers seem like they are stashing Joe Williams on injured reserve. What’s his future look like?

Los Angeles Chargers v San Francisco 49ers Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

The San Francisco 49ers will place rookie running back Joe Williams on injured reserve with an ankle injury that probably isn’t serious enough to actually warrant that placement. In reality, Williams, a fourth-round pick, was soundly beaten by Matt Breida, an undrafted free agent, in training camp and the preseason.

Williams is certainly hurt, but the 49ers wouldn’t be making him active due to Breida’s backup spot and Raheem Mostert’s special teams acumen, so they made this decision and effectively put his career on hold for a season. I don’t disagree with the move by any means — Williams certainly wouldn’t survive on the practice squad. They’re stashing him for a year, and that’s fine.

“That’s a tough loss because he’s a guy that we felt could really contribute in a big way for us,” general manager John Lynch said on Saturday. “I think everybody saw the unique capabilities Joe has. He has game-breaking speed, tremendous vision.”

He then went on to say that Williams is going to be “a big part of our future in my mind.” That’s good to hear, especially because Williams was viewed initially as someone who could contribute right away and challenge Carlos Hyde for carries.

That didn’t bear out over the course of training camp and the preseason, but I definitely don’t want to see Williams forgotten. To me, he is a RB1 talent that the 49ers are stashing because that’s just how things are working out.

This year, the 49ers will dress three backs plus fullback Kyle Juszczyk. I think it’s a lineup that could do great things, but I do wish this wouldn’t have happened with Williams because I expect he’ll only get better over time.