With ten games completed, The San Francisco 49ers are beginning to show us a lot of who they really are as a team now. They can beat you in so many ways, be it with their run game, quarterback, or their defense, some contributors are household names like George Kittle, and then maybe there’s those we don’t appreciate enough. The underrated player.
Pro Football Focus put together a list of each team’s most underrated player, and for the 49ers, they picked cornerback K’Waun Williams. A pick that I myself have a hard time arguing. Williams has two interceptions on the year, and two forced fumbles to go along with it. He also has been given partial credit for two sacks.
Richard Sherman may be the superstar of the Niners’ secondary, but the secret superstar is K’Waun Williams, who has earned a coverage grade of 83.0 this year that ranks sixth among cornerbacks. Williams has specifically shined defending downfield and has allowed just two targets of 10-plus air yards to be caught this year — the passer rating on those targets? Only 6.0.
Williams is signed through the 2020 season, and the 49ers should have a way to keep him around without breaking the bank. With Jimmy Ward now back to his natural spot of free safety and playing at a high level (look what happens when you move players back to what they are used to playing), Williams is it at nickel cornerback.
I also might say Kwon Alexander was underrated since his absence from the defense has been so huge, but he was getting a lot of street cred as the season wore on before his pectoral tear. I’d also say Justin Skule and Daniel Brunskill were underrated as they kept the offensive line from going completely off the rails when Mike McGlinchey and Joe Staley missed time. Skule, in particular, is getting the best experience of his developing life coming in for Staley’s now-two injuries.
But who do I really want to argue this distinction with? Long Snapper Kyle Nelson. I think we all saw how bad not having a decent long snapper was to start the season. Yes, the holds for Robbie Gould looked fine, but there’s that timing element from long snapper to the holder that Nelson’s fill-ins lacked.
That said, It’s hard to argue against Williams, who has been overshadowed by Richard Sherman, Emmanuel Moseley, and Jimmie Ward. But when Williams has delivered, it’s been five-minutes-into-the-30-minute-guarantee-type-of-pizza-delivery. So good of delivery that Richard Sherman petitioned him to be on the Pro Bowl Ballot.
That said, who do you think is the most underrated player on the San Francisco 49ers? Williams? Nelson? Or someone else?