Average Draft Position: N/A
NFL Veteran Comparison: LeSean McCoy
Joe Williams is creating buzz in his time at 49ers OTAs and mandatory minicamp. The fourth round (121st overall) selection is earning high praise from his coaching staff. Kyle Shanahan said after the draft that if the Niners didn’t get Williams, “[he’s] not going to be able to sleep.” There are rumblings of Williams potentially overtaking incumbent starter Carlos Hyde, and here’s why it could happen:
- Williams is a speedy back (4.41 40 yard dash). He also has a good build for a workhorse running back (5’11” 215 lbs) and is also able to run for power, so this combination of size, power, and speed can help elevate him to the top of the depth chart. In comparison, Carlos Hyde ran a 4.62 40, and is more of a one-dimensional runner, lacking the lateral quickness that Williams possesses.
- Hyde has fumbling issues; he fumbled five times in just this past season. If Williams can continue to take care of the football throughout the rest of the offseason, that will only heighten his favor with the coaches, especially because he was handpicked by offensive wizard Kyle Shanahan.
- Hyde is also in a new system with coaches he has no ties to in a contract year. The coaches could end up favoring Williams because they see him as their future with Hyde most likely gone after this season.
Williams had an extremely productive college career, rushing for 1407 yards and 10 touchdowns in just nine games in his final season at Utah. Durability seems to be his biggest issue, as he never played a full season in his collegiate career. If Williams does win the starting job, it doesn’t seem likely that he will reach the 1,000 yard mark, as he faces a timeshare with Hyde and Tim Hightower, who seems to have the third-down role locked up.
Around 800-900 yards is feasible, along with 6+ touchdowns depending on the efficiency of the Niners’ offense and if they fall behind early in games this season. LeSean McCoy is Williams’ veteran comparison, as he has the same quickness (4.4 40), similar build (5’11” 208 lbs), and his nasty trademark cutback. Currently, Williams is a 15th-16th round pick or free agent after the draft, which would be robbery once the season arrives. Williams could end up being an excellent bye-week replacement or a borderline RB3/FLEX option depending on how the Niners’ season unfolds.