Kyle Williams

NY Giants believed Kyle Williams’ past concussions made him vulnerable

The New York Giants felt going into the NFC Championship that Kyle Williams’ past problems with concussions — including a recent brain injury suffered in Seattle when Michael Robinson and Adrian Moten sandwiched him while he was sitting on the turf at the end of a kickoff return — made Williams a smart player to target for a Giants team looking for 49ers to rattle.

After the game, reporters crowded around the locker of Jacquian Williams, who’d forced the second fumble, hoping for an angle: Had the Giants noticed something about Kyle Williams’s technique, some weakness in the 49ers punt-return scheme? “Nah,” Williams said. “The thing is, we knew he had four concussions, so that was our biggest thing, was to take him outta the game.”

Devin Thomas, the reserve wide receiver who recovered both of Kyle Williams’s fumbles, was even more explicit. “He’s had a lot of concussions,” Thomas told the Star-Ledger columnist Steve Politi. “We were just like, ‘We gotta put a hit on that guy.’ … [Giants reserve safety Tyler] Sash did a great job hitting him early and he looked kind of dazed when he got up. I feel like that made a difference and he coughed it up.”

Were the Giants head-hunting? I didn’t see that, but this news still opens up several family-sized cans of worms.


Now that the NFL is attempting (rather clumsily) to get in front of the whole concussions issue, the idea that teams are preying upon players who’ve suffered previous head injuries is worrisome at best, disgusting at worst. Will they discipline the Giants either individually or as a team?

Very doubtful.

The 49ers

Did the 49ers know if Williams was suffering any concussion-like symptoms?

Probably not, since teams don’t seem to want to know if their players are concussed unless keeping them in the game might hurt the team.

The Kyle Williams

Did Williams know he had a concussion during the game, but decide to keep that to himself?

I’ve never had a concussion, so I have no idea how aware you are that you’ve suffered a concussion immediately after sustaining the injury, especially if you’ve already suffered a concussion. And since everyone’s brain is extremely different, and doctors know less about the brain than any other organ, doesn’t the possibility exist that each person’s concussion experience could be extremely different, too?

Even if Williams felt “woozy,” what motivation would he have to let anyone on the Niners’ sideline know (especially during a Conference Championship Game) unless he was planning on retiring from the NFL within a year or two? Williams’ spot in the NFL is hardly safe; he started the year as a fringe player who rose to the team’s No. 2 receiver because everyone else was either hurt, cut or came from a practice squad.

Now Williams’ reputation isn’t just “fumbling backup returner guy,” it’s “easily-concussed fumbling backup returner guy.”

Williams must love the Giants right now. Like it wasn’t bad enough that he lost two turnovers that turned into 10 points for the Giants, but the team he lost to gleefully ratted out his bruised brain to everyone, not just those in the know. The Twitter threats were more infuriating, but what Williams and Thomas said in the visiting locker room on Sunday night will probably prove more detrimental to Williams’ future earning potential, at least as a football player.

And with Michael Crabtree and Williams — the only wide receivers under contract next year — combining for 1 catch and 3 yards against the Giants, it’s even clearer that the Niners need a total revamp at that position more than any other.

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