In 2017 the San Francisco 49ers drafted Joe Williams in the 4th round. While he had some off-field concerns, given that he left the Utah Utes football team and then later came back, it was understandable given he was grieving over the death of his sister and had some severe personal demons. By all accounts, Williams had the tools to be a solid playmaker for the 49ers.
Then he didn’t really do very much.
He had the yards—sure. But it’s easy to get yards in the preseason when starting running backs are pulled early, and you’re kept in the game. Sure he had 60 yards against the Kansas City Chiefs in the first week of the 2017 preseason, but from there he got one yard and 16 yards in Weeks 2 and 3 respectively.
To be fair, he finished Week 4 with 53 yards in 10 carries. Inconsistency be thy name.
But then the fumbles, man Joe Williams had too many fumbles. Three fumbles in four preseason games is something a running back just can’t have. That combined with a foot injury put Williams on IR and an end to his 2017 aspirations.
Kyle Shanahan said Williams will need to turn up the urgency. The time is now.
Now that he’s had a decent camp. It’s time to see if he’s turned things around in 2018 and it starts with the Dallas Cowboys. Last year, pitches and handoffs just appeared to be a struggle. This year, I’d like to see him get those fumbles down and not have such a hard time catching a pitch from C.J. Beathard.
If Williams can get things turned around, the 49ers will finally have a three headed beast at running back and theoretically (this is Kyle Shanahan, here) run Jerick McKinnon, Matt Breida and Joe Williams all in the same play at times. Williams has too much talent to simply get cut his second year, but now he needs to show some development. It’d be a joy to have this trio at running back and it could make one of the most deadly running back groups in the league.
It all starts with what he can show us against the Cowboys. Just don’t fumble.