Every NFL has a star player and a “secret weapon” who unleashes every now and then.
Well, that is according to Bleacher Report’s Kristopher Knox, who took the time to go through every single team and name their secret weapon––most of whom never earned a Pro Bowl or All-Pro nod.
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Willams Has Yet to Earn a Pro Bowl
Williams isn’t the player you’d think of to be the 49ers’ secret weapon after missing eight games last season.
Nevertheless, Knox explains his reasoning:
Over the past couple of seasons, the 49ers have earned a reputation as a defensive football team. That unit helped pave the way for a Super Bowl run in 2019. In 2020, the defense ranked fifth overall despite injuries to players like Nick Bosa, Dee Ford and Richard Sherman.
San Francisco will likely lean on its defense again in 2021, and cornerback K’Waun Williams might be the most overlooked member of that unit.
Williams has never been a Pro Bowler, and he operates primarily as a nickelback. However, despite missing eight games in 2020, Williams amassed 22 tackles, two sacks, four passes defended and a forced fumble. He allowed an opposing passer rating of just 81.9.
When healthy in 2019, Williams was even more productive. He notched two interceptions and allowed an opposing passer rating of 76.1. Expect him to be one of the most important pieces of San Francisco’s secondary this season.
Williams turned 30 this month and is entering his fifth year with the Niners. Despite having yet to earn a Pro Bowl honor, he’s meant a lot to the 49ers’ defense. Just this past year alone, Williams had more pass breakups and sacks than the two years prior combined, so don’t let his “old” age fool you.
What to Expect from 49ers Defense in 2021
So, what should we expect from the 49ers’ defense this season with Robert Saleh no longer in the picture?
“Our defense will be a fast, attacking, aggressive defense,” The new sheriff in charge, DeMeco Ryans, told reporters during his first media presence back in June. “I want guys to play fast. I want guys who are smart. I want guys who are going to play physical.”
Specifically, Ryans wants a more aggressive defensive line, thus leaving room for Williams to make more plays.
“I want to be known as an attacking defensive line,” Ryans said. “Our D-Line is going to attack. Our linebackers and secondary, they’re going to play with base fundamentals. We’re going to play off our D-Line. We’re going to allow our D-Line to get off the ball and attack, we’re going to clean up things behind them, but we will be a more aggressive, attacking defense.”
Saleh’s ideas worked in the past, so naturally, Ryans has plans to put his twist on the now-New York Jets head coaches’ playbook.
“I am my own person,” Ryans said. “Saleh has taught me a lot — probably one of the coaches that’s taught me the most football that I’ve been around. He’s been very integral to my development as a coach, and I can’t thank him enough for all the things he’s instilled in me. So there will be some of the similar scheme things that we’ve done in the past. You will see some similarities there, but you will see some wrinkles. You will see my brand of football on it.”
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