Punt returner Kyle Williams has probably seen his last days with the San Francisco 49ers.
The second-year wide out from Arizona State fumbled two punt returns on Sunday in the NFC Championship game, with the final turnover leading to the Giants' game-winning overtime field goal and ending the 49ers' Super Bowl hopes, 20-17.
Williams had only returned two punts in the regular season, and was filling in for injured Ted Ginn Jr. The aftermath of Williams's mistakes against the Giants will likely mean that his days with the 49ers are over. American sports fans tend to remember when a player has a dramatic impact on the outcome of an important game, so Williams would likely be a distraction on the 49ers' roster next season.
The stage was much bigger for Boston Red Sox's first baseman Bill Buckner, and the mistake was far more glaring, when he let a routine ground ball go through his legs against the New York Mets in the 1986 World Series that eventually led to the Mets winning the title.
Williams's fumble was not nearly as dramatic and was far more forgiveable than Buckner's flub, but it doesn't change the fact that he is in the headlines for the wrong reasons.
Unfortunately for Williams, the mistakes were late the game. Williams's first muff was when he didn't back away from a bouncing punt that ended up touching his leg in the fourth quarter. The Giants would score a touchdown on the ensuing drive.
The final fumble came in overtime when he was stripped by New York's Jacquian Williams, and the Giants were able to kick the game-winning field goal just four plays later.
It was a painful situation to watch, as a young player basically fumbled a team's Super Bowl chances away.
You hate to be the last guy that had the ball, to give it away in that fashion and to lose a game of this magnitude, Williams said, after the game. It is what it is. We're going to move forward as a team. Everyone has come to pat me on the back and the shoulder to say it's not me.
Indeed, Williams made an important contribution to the game. He returned a kickoff 40 yards, which set up field-goal kicker David Akers' tying kick in regulation.
A sixth-round pick in the 2010 NFL Draft, Williams earned first-team All Pac 10 honors as a punt returner while at Arizona State. He is the son of Kyle Williams, the general manager of the Chicago White Sox.