Originally written on Juiced Sports Blog  |  Last updated 11/2/14

SCOTT JACOBS

Sunday morning, little known 49ers backup kick returner Kyle Williams woke up to the exciting news that he would be fielding kicks, with all-world special teams guy, Tedd Ginn Jr. out with an injury. The kid had to be ecstatic.

Just a second year WR out of Arizona State, the 5′10, 186 pound Williams was getting the chance of a lifetime: the opportunity to play hero or even to just have a significant impact, in a game that could send the 49ers to the Super Bowl. But like any movie with a hero, the man who comes in to try and save the day, can also be the one who falls victim to the opposite affect: they can also become the villain.  The scapegoat.  The man everyone tries to run out of town.

So when Williams muffed a critical punt return — correction: misplayed a punt, allowing it to graze off his leg — allowing New York’s Devin Thomas to recover deep in 49ers territory with San Fran holding onto a 14-10 lead in the 4th quarter, he went from loveable backup, to despised f*^$up.  The Giants turned the turnover into a touchdown.

But the 49ers came back and Williams seemed to attain for his ghastly error in judgement with a solid return late in the game. Unfortunately, that’s not where the story ends.  By now, you probably know that Williams — son of White Sox GM Kenny Williams — also fumbled a punt in overtime. Oddly enough it was recovered by who else — Thomas. The sinister begining of a pairing that will likely link Williams and Thomas for the duration of their sporting careers and who knows, maybe beyond.  But Williams’ second critical mistake did more than doom the home team and it’s Super Bowl dreams. It made him the scapegoat of all scapegoats.  An easy target for the ire of broken-hearted Bay area fans, jilted by two special teams plays that arguably cost their team the NFC title.

So, people turned to social media and with access, comes well, easy outlets for abject hatred — and they began spewing Williams with death threats. Classy folks.

It’s not surprising, it happens too often. It’s the stage. It’s the eyeballs. When you play for all the marbles you can become iconic or be perceived as demonic. Williams didn’t screw up on purpose, it just wasn’t his night. But 49ers fans, like any sports fan, will tell you that you never know when your team will get that chance again, just ask the Cubs. Their irrational anger was pointed directly at the young returner and today a man we hardly knew some 48 hours ago, is the focus of a barrage of hatred.

Of course, had he taken that second punt to the house and sent the 49ers to the Super Bowl, he’d be a god. They’d give him the key to the city. He’d have his own David Tyree moment in the sun. Instead, the ball was stripped from his grasp, and the chance to be a hero evaporated into the lowest of lows — being perceived as a zero.

His teammates quickly came to his aid, as did many other football players after the game — which was nice — but the damage had been done. We always say that athletes have the ability to tune out just about anything, which makes them so brilliant at what they do.  But I find it hard to believe that Williams isn’t shaken by this. There are a lot of nut-jobs out there, meaning that not every threat is baseless. While this isn’t a third world country, where a star might actually get lynched after a costly error, it’s still a place filled with passionate people, who let their heart get in the way of their head.

Sports fans becomes so attached to their teams, that when they lose — especially during an unexpected, out of nowhere thrill ride, like San Fran had this year back to the top — that it rips their hearts out. If you are a hardcore fan of a team you’ve been through those range of emotions — wanting to punch a door, pacing the room, cursing repeatedly, stomping your feet like a 5 year old, even ranting angrily on message boards, Facebook, or Twitter. But the Bill Buckner treatment needs to stop.

It is just a game. Though an escape, it is not the end all. Life goes on, they’ll play another season next year. This will all go away in time.

Threatening a man’s life though because he fumbled a football. That might scar him forever.

GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

SF Giants file brief in support of gay marriage to Supreme Court

Jay Cutler available to teams in trade

Brian Hoyer praises Johnny Manziel for checking into rehab

Dockett: I would have signed with Cardinals for less money

Report: Darrelle Revis' decision to come down to Patriots, Jets

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Maurice Jones-Drew announces his retirement from NFL

Ndamukong Suh is biggest prize, risk in free agency

Associated Press will have 'robots' writing game stories

Jaworski on Winston: 'I would not take him at that No. 1 pick

Peyton Manning passes physical, returning to Broncos

Gregg Popovich rips notion of NBA Finals games in July

Likeliest landing spots for Ndamukong Suh

Tigers pitcher Alfredo Simon drives a chrome Mercedes

WATCH: Ronda Rousey breaks guy's ribs who doubts her ability

Michelle Beadle’s campaign to be cast in ‘Sharknado 3′ pays off

Ten teams who have tightened the belt

Dodgers will have a tough time dumping Andre Ethier

Brian Cashman: Derek Jeter should be final Yankees captain

Tom Brady, Rory McIlroy to play round at Augusta National

No one knows who will win the 2014-15 NBA MVP

Giants TE on plane that slid off runway in New York

TSN to stop airing tweets after trade deadline debacle

Is there a team for Rajon Rondo?

All Sports News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Likeliest landing spots for Suh

Jay Cutler available to teams in trade

Ronda Rousey breaks guy's ribs

Ten teams who have tightened the belt

Mayweather waited for Pacquiao to get old, right?

Maurice Jones-Drew announces his retirement from NFL

Ndamukong Suh is biggest prize, risk in free agency

AP will have 'robots' writing game stories

Manning officially returning to Broncos

No one knows who will win the MVP

Pop rips notion of NBA Finals in July

Is there a team for Rajon Rondo?

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.