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49ers 90-in-90: How CB K’Waun Williams can improve in 2019?

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Breaking down the 90 players on the 49ers offseason roster in 90 posts (over 90 or so days). Today is cornerback K’Waun Williams

San Francisco 49ers v Tampa Bay Buccaneers Photo by Will Vragovic/Getty Images

One of the more underrated position battles that will sort itself out throughout the season will be who plays slot cornerback for the San Francisco 49ers. If everyone is healthy, it’s probably Jason Verrett. There will be a few players competing for the job. D.J. Reed should be in the running after some impressive showings in limited action last year. I wonder if we’ll see one of the safeties drop down into the slot more this year.

K’Waun Williams manned the slot. Williams played 55% of the snaps in 2018 for the 49ers, which was the third-most in the secondary. If I had to describe how Williams played in 2018, it would be “fine.” In a Robert Saleh defense, the slot corner isn’t faced with the toughest assignments. It’s vital for the cornerback to be a good tackler. You’re going to give up receptions underneath, but you must be able to limit the yards after the catch.

Williams allowed five yards after the catch last year. Five. Only 18 cornerbacks in the NFL were worse. I like Williams style of play, but the lack of ball production coupled with the yards after the catch leaves the door open for someone else to step in.

Basic info

Age: 27 (28 on July 12)

Experience: 4 accrued seasons

Height: 5’9

Weight: 183 lbs

Cap Status

Williams is entering the third year of a four-year contract. His cap number for 2019 is $2,568,750. Williams signed an extension during the beginning of the 2017 season. If the 49ers were to cut Williams this season, there would be $750,000 in dead money.

Why he might regress in 2019

Williams will need to stay healthy. He missed a couple of games due to injury late in the season last year. When I describe him as “fine,”I mean that Williams has shown he can be competent, but you can upgrade from him. Finding a playmaker to fill the slot role should be the goal for the Niners.

Why he might improve in 2019

Cornerback charting is fickle. Williams could lead the league in limiting YAC this season, and I wouldn’t bat an eye. If Williams can be a bit more consistent—simply by being in better position—that could lead to more pass breakups. Additionally, being in position will limit YAC. Last year he was only credited with four missed tackles. Williams isn’t a poor tackler. He also has shown a physical mentality in the run game. Staying aggressive, with the added talent around him, and Williams should improve in 2019.