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Kyle Williams: 'It's painful'

  • San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Kyle Williams leaves the locker room at the 49ers NFL football headquarters in Santa Clara, Calif., Monday, Jan. 23, 2012. The 49ers lost to the New York Giants in the NFC championship game on Sunday. Williams fumbled a punt return in overtime to set up the Giants win. (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma)

SANTA CLARA — Unless you're a Super Bowl champion, clearing out your locker at the end of the season is a somber ritual. It was especially subdued this year for the 49ers, who were still feeling the sting of Sunday's 20-17 overtime loss to the New York Giants, a game that left them one step short of the Super Bowl.

Monday, the locker room was filled with boxes, some standing empty and ready for equipment, others already beginning to fill with cleats and gloves and other tools of the NFL trade.

NFC Championship Game

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Players came and went during the 90-minute media session, and none of them drew more interest than Kyle Williams, whose two miscues on punts opened the door for New York's victory.

Early in the fourth quarter, he let Steve Weatherford's punt skip by him, and officials ruled that it grazed Williams' leg; the Giants took possession at the San Francisco 29-yard line and capitalized with a touchdown that gave them a 17-14 lead. It got worse in overtime when Williams attempted another punt return and was stripped by Jacquian Williams. Devin Thomas recovered for New York at the 49ers' 24, setting up Lawrence Tynes for the field goal that has his team headed for Indianapolis.

It was a crushing blow for Kyle Williams, the second-year player who was filling in for injured Ted Ginn both as a wide receiver and as a kick returner. His mistakes were replayed in an endless loop on the late-night sports highlight shows, and the response on Twitter was swift and savage. One follower said, "you should jump off the Golden Gate Bridge for that one." Another chimed in with, "HOPE U RUN n2 A BULLET DA WAY U RAN INTO DAT BALL."


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