Kyle Williams 49ers

The San Francisco 49ers made some roster moves today, waiving Kyle Williams and Perrish Cox and activating Nick Moody from the Injured Reserve/Designated for Return List.

The 49ers seem to really like Moody, who they drafted in the sixth round of the 2013 NFL Draft. He broke his hand playing special teams in Week 1 against the Packers, which is strange because Pro Football Focus doesn’t list Moody as someone who played any snaps in that game. Since Matt Maiocco reported seeing Dan Skuta in a walking boot yesterday, the 49ers might need Moody in case Skuta can’t go. The walking boot could mean we’ll see Aldon Smith unleashed in New Orleans after playing 1/6 of the defensive snaps against Carolina.

Cox is gone because there isn’t much reason to keep him around with Eric Wright ready to take Cox’s spot as the dime cornerback. The 49ers also need roster flexibility to bring another safety and/or tight end on the 53-man roster. Eric Reid is almost certainly not going to play against New Orleans after suffering his second concussion in two months, and Vernon Davis suffered his second concussion of in the last year on a play that looked rather innocuous (easy for me to say). Davis’ head hit the ground, an impact which could easily cause a concussion on it’s own — however, one has to wonder if he’s more susceptible to brain injuries after the hit he took from Kam Chancellor last December.

Plus, Garrett Celek injured his hamstring. The 49ers can’t run the two-TE sets they love so much with just one tight end (Vance McDonald).

Of the moves made today, the dismissal of Williams has received the most attention. It’d make sense for the San Diego Chargers to claim Williams, not because of need but because the helmet would work perfectly for a player who’s been such a lightning rod since the NFC Championship Game loss to the New York Giants.

Williams failed to make an impact as the team’s No. 2 receiver, and was set to be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season. But cutting Williams and Cox means LaMichael James is the only punt returner left on the roster. So why cut Williams now, instead of Kassim Osgood (who was inactive against the Panthers) or Jon Baldwin (who hasn’t done a whole lot since joining the team)?

The point I’m about to make could have absolutely nothing to do with the 49ers’ decision to waive Williams, but his last play as a 49er went so poorly that I’m wondering if it was the proverbial “last straw.”

Here’s how it looked from the sideline (about halfway through this 34-second video):

I had no idea at the time why Colin Kaepernick threw that ball up for grabs. After checking out the replay and then the all-22 footage today, either Williams or Mario Manningham (or both) ran the wrong route.

Kyle Williams 1

The arrow is pointing at Williams in the photo above. All three wideouts are on the right side of the field, with Manningham on Williams’ right on the outside and Boldin lined up to the left of Williams on the inside.

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Boldin runs a short route and heads toward the sideline. Manningham and Williams both streak downfield (arrow still on Williams).

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Here’s where it’s clear that someone screwed up. There’s no reason for two receivers to be so close together.

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Kaepernick probably should’ve thrown to someone underneath, but after getting sacked on the previous play (the sixth sack he absorbed on the day), he threw a wobbly pass toward the mass of people congregating around the 49ers’ 35-yard line. Yes, the arrow is still pointing at Williams.

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The damage had been done by this point as far as the interception was concerned; I just added this photo to show how Williams and Manningham could have touched each other at one point during this play.

The decision to cut Williams was based on his body of work, not one play. Also, there’s a chance Manningham ran the wrong route instead of Williams. But it strikes me as odd that a guy who was good enough to line up for the game’s final play was deemed unnecessary for the 49ers’ next game.