49ers roster: 5 most important defensive players entering 2021

Fred Warner #54 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
Fred Warner #54 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images) /
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K'Waun Williams, SF 49ers
San Francisco 49ers cornerback K’Waun Williams (24) Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports /

49ers Most Important Defender No. 3: Cornerback K’Waun Williams

A number of things to chew on here with regards to the 49ers’ starting nickel cornerback, K’Waun Williams.

For starters, nickel backs are essentially starters in today’s league which features more sub packages than base formations to guard against three-wide receiver offensive units opposing them.

On top of that, Williams has cemented himself as one of the better slot-cover guys in the league, too, even though he will never receive the same kind of recognition as many a top-end boundary cornerback would receive. Such is the nature of the NFL.

Williams, who missed eight games last year because of injuries, was sorely missed amid a banged-up Niners defense. Yet San Francisco managed to get by in 2020, thanks to some exceptional backup play from reserve cornerback Jamar Taylor, who’s no longer on the roster.

Now, Williams’ primary backups are Dontae Johnson, Ambry Thomas and Deommodore Lenoir, who don’t exactly inspire as top-end replacements, should Williams suffer another injury.

Needless to say, the best way for the 49ers to maximize Williams’ presence is to ensure he’s on the field as much as possible.