Joe Williams: “I was the best running back in the draft.”

SANTA CLARA

Running back Joe Williams spoke with Bay Area reporters in the 49ers media room Thursday afternoon. Here are select quotes.

Q: John Lynch said when he first started researching you and learned you had sat out those four games, he didn’t want you on his list. Slowly but surely, you got back on that list. Did you get the sense from the attention they gave you that that was building as we got closer to the draft, that they got more and more interested in you?

WILLIAMS: It was getting there, but I just wanted to stay humble, stay modest. I kept telling myself that worst-case scenario I would be undrafted and I would just have to work a little harder.

Q: There will be people who say, “Is he tough enough to stick out?” What do you say to them?

WILLIAMS: I just plan to go out every day and go to work. I think my film says, and me speaking in front of the cameras, it helps for people to hear it from my mouth instead of just the media. Just going out to practice, learning the playbook and contributing to get the starting job this season.

Q: Do you know what number you’re going to wear?

WILLIAMS: They got a 33 in there. I mean really, it doesn’t matter to me. I’m just excited to go out and play.

Q: The fact that the 49ers stuck their necks out for you, do you feel any more added pressure to prove them right or not let them down?

WILLIAMS: I wouldn’t say added pressure. Just increased motivation, so next year everybody can say, “He was the steal of draft. He proved all the critics wrong.”

Q: When you looked at this draft and saw some of the other players, when you looked at Dalvin Cook whom you compare to very favorably, and say, “I should be up there in conversation with them.”

WILLIAMS: I do. I always tell myself and tell everybody in front of me that I was the best running back in the draft. But, you don’t have to be the first running back taken or a first-round or a second-round pick to have that inclination. It’s just what you do on the field. Everybody has where they were slotted at, but you’ll have players who don’t meet that expectation.

Q: What’s the toughest thing you’ve done in football?

WILLIAMS: Stepping away this past season. Understanding that mental health is a big thing. For a man of 23-years old who just got his sociology degree to understand that to do what’s right in his life he needed to leave the sport that he loved dearly.

Q: Walking away was tougher than coming back?

WILLIAMS: Coming back wasn’t that hard just because of the support I had from my teammates. Understanding that they unanimously wanted me to come back. Utah is that program where everybody is a brother. Pita (Toemoepenu) is right here – he’s my brother. It’s great to have him in the same uniform with me. But just being in that program, my teammates knew what I went through and they were willing to have me come back.

Q: When you stepped away, was that door kept open? Did you say you’d be open to come back?

WILLIAMS: As soon as I left? No. When I left, I gave myself the mindset that I would exercise my degree, maybe go home and coach football. I knew I was going to be more of a detriment to the team if I didn’t step back and I didn’t get my life together. I didn’t want to come back and rush things. I felt as though I did enough in those four weeks to mitigate all the wrong that I did the past 13 years because of the death of my sister. I’m a completely changed man because of that.

Q: Coach Shanahan spoke highly about your vision. Do you feel that’s a strong suit of your game, and what else do you think you can bring to the 49ers right away?

WILLIAMS: Vision is one. I think that’s key, along with my speed. Also pass protection. We’ve got a couple quarterbacks, they get paid the most so I’ve got to protect them. And just being a receiver out of the backfield. Coach Shanahan was with Devontae Freeman and Tevin Coleman last year and he used them in a variety of ways, so I just want to be able to be implemented in the offense the same way.

Q: How much communication did you have with RB coach Bobby Turner before the draft?

WILLIAMS: Whew, I thought he was like my uncle. We spoke at least once or twice every week, whether it be through a text or a phone call. I always made sure to hit him right back. I didn’t get to see him at the Combine or really speak with anybody from the 49ers, so I just wanted to keep that good rapport with him and it worked out for the best.

Q: What’s his personality like?

WILLIAMS: Did you watch the Friday series? He’s like John Witherspoon.

Q: Did leaving the game for a month make you a better player?

WILLIAMS: It did. Like I said earlier, mental health is a very frowned-upon thing. People hear “crazy” and they want to close that door. Just for me to fix that in my head and understand that football is such a key to me beside my family. And my sister. When I came back, that was that chip on my shoulder. The guilt was gone, so that added to more of the motivation. And just the scrutiny that I was getting from some of the fans and people around the world who were coming at me. It was just built up aggression that I was letting out every week.

Q: What happened at UCONN when you were kicked off the team?

WILLIAMS: Basically, I had a roommate who sold me a backpack that was marginally less than what it was at retail, and he had used our teammate’s credit card to buy it, and he had shipped it in my name to my address. So when the prosecution was going through, all ties led back to me. I fought it through the school and remained in good standing. They felt as though I was innocent. But for the university to reinstate me on the football team, they couldn’t because the case was still open and they didn’t want that bad publicity of having a kid who “we see” used a credit card and “we see” it was his fault.

Q: How did that case resolve itself?

WILLIAMS: Just a little fine, $200. Which is ironic because that’s how much the bag cost.

This article has 29 Comments

      1. Hey, that’s pretty cool! Thanks for that MWNiner! The force is strong in this one;>)Anybody seen Hwaits?

        1. So we have Bobby ” the Waterboy ” Boucher, who will use the chip on his shoulder ( people coming at him in the past ) as anger fuel. Here’s to him opening up many cans of “whip asss” during his career as a 49er.

          1. Joe Willie will open many cans of “whip ass”. He’s got a top gear that few have and he’s very quick to it.

  1. I’m much more worried about Foster and Witherspoon making it than this guy. He seems focused and ready to play.

  2. I like him already.
    Call me crazy, call me a fanboy. But I have a feeling three or four players in this draft are going to be key players in another Super Bowl run in the next couple of years.
    Probably the first draft in years I’ve liked this much. Multiple future pro bowlers I’m thinking.
    I think Lynch and shanahan are setting a winning culture already and they haven’t started the season.

  3. Seb dialogue:

    Seb has entered foreign territory. He knows just enough to be dangerous in debating the classics….

    Seb is a mirror image of Nero, who thought himself an artist and travelled city to city from his golden house (paid for by Roman taxpayers) to enter into artistic contests.

    Of course, citizens of these artistic contests always voted Nero/Seb victorious— in peril of a beheading if they didn’t.

    Early in the morning of June 19, 64 a blaze broke out in the shops around the Circus Maximus and quickly spread throughout the city. Over the next nine days, three of Rome’s 14 districts were destroyed and an additional seven were severely damaged. Several classical sources place
    Nero on the roof of his palace during the fire, dressed in stage garb and singing from the Greek epic “The Sack of Ilium.” Rumors quickly circulated that the emperor had started the fire to clear land for an expanded palace complex on the Palatine Hill.

    TomD’s Response: Kind of sounds like Seb clearing out his neigbors with a supposed chainsaw mishap.

    And, Seb, like Nero, has a narcissistic egomaniacal complex…Is it possible he needed extra land from his poor neighbor, who, heroically, doused the chainsaw fire with a mere 1000 buckets of water….Oh, the price we pay to be Seb’s neighbor.

    http://www.history.com/topics/ancient-history/nero

    Cassie Baalke
    May 4, 2017 at 10:44 am
    Didn’t realize that ‘posting a mock’ was a test of manhood. Seb, you are a jewel.

    Gadfly

    May 4, 2017 at 10:52 am

    “So, commenting on something you did not… comprehend… may be the biggest futility.”

    So, does this mean you are going to stop posting entirely, since you have never met a concept which you seem to be able to fully comprehend? Just askin’.

    sebnynah May 4, 2017 at 9:42 am
    I will gladly be taken more as an Athenian, compared to a Spartan, any day.
    Athenians were enlightened.

    Gadfly
    May 4, 2017 at 9:51 am

    Athenians were enlightened.”
    Yes, that is why Socrates was sentenced to death by the Athenian (failed) democracy for corrupting the youth by suggesting that the gods were not real. Wait, what

    1. TrollD, you are trying too hard.

      Quit looking so desperate.

      You are the troll who thought up the brilliant trade- Kaep for Tebow.

      You are only slightly less intelligent as the the other guy who thought the Niners would draft Trubisky, when any knowledgeable Niner fan would realize that they need to stop the rush.

      I sure am glad that Lynch chose 3 defenders, first.

    2. Why is this non-football fodder here? Just poor judgement or a blatant mistake? Rease this if you can!

  4. 49ers, QB, C.J. Beathard, who wore Joe Montana’s, # 16 while in college, will wear Montana’s number 3 number from University of Notre Dame.

  5. Well… Those are big words for a guy who was third-string at Utah until his senior year and didn’t get on a football field in college until he was a junior.

    I’d rather he shut up and prove it than flap his lips. Because his college career was nowhere near ‘best back of the draft.’ Especially for a guy with just 20 receptions in his entire career and is known to be, basically, an incompetent at blitz pick-up.

    Which is why he was 22nd at CBS. 16th at NFL. And in that range in most other draft rankings.

  6. I think he’s going to be good. I like my boy Carlos Hyde, but if he keeps getting hurt Joe will take his job and he will not be getting a contract extension after the season unless he’s willing to be a backup. But he is too good to be a backup. Anybody agree with me? Alright ShanaLynch!! GO NINERS!!

  7. This guy is electric. He is elusive and he has breakaway speed. He will definitely push Hyde and gives the offense the element of a home run hitter. Did you look at his stats after he came back? They were very gawdy, even for college. With Shanny calling plays this kid could be special. The reason he was ranked so low is because people didn’t really research his story and unfairly labeled him a quitter. He didn’t look like a quitter when he came back, he looked like a stud. I think Bobby Turner and Shanny know a little bit more than you about what makes a great running back.

  8. That’s what Kelvin Taylor said about himself last year. It worked for Tom Brady, but that’s one in a million. It’s great to be confident and it may sound harsh, but Williams just needs to prove he can play a full season without quitting. I’m glad we have him but let’s see it on and off the field.

  9. I wonder if they could have waited, and still had gotten the opportunity to draft him, but I sure like the fact that the coaches were asking for players they coveted, and Lynch obliged.

    1. I liked their aggressive mentality. If you’ve got the ammo, no need to hold your fire. Target and acquire the players most coveted. No need to get too cute….

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