It's a moment every 49ers fan would like to forget. On the verge of a trip to the Super Bowl, wide receiver Kyle Williams made critical errors on two different punt return attempts, helping the New York Giants defeat the 49ers in the 2011 NFC Championship Game at Candlestick Park.
The 49ers' normal return man, Ted Ginn Jr., was injured and forced Williams into action. The inexperienced return man received an unfortunate amount of hate for the missteps, even some horrific death threats. But are these the worst two plays in team history?
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While this moment robbed San Francisco of a berth in the Super Bowl, the Niners are quite familiar with heartbreak from each of the team's most recent appearances in the big game.
The goal-line stand by the Baltimore Ravens in the final seconds of Super Bowl XLVII and the overthrow of a wide-open Emmanuel Sanders on third down late in Super Bowl LIV both were the defining moments of those games, keeping the franchise from its sixth Super Bowl title in both cases.
But those games ultimately didn't come down to one player or play. While the same can be said about the 49ers' loss to the Giants in 2011, Williams certainly is the only thing most fans remember.
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The first one came in the fourth quarter, with the Niners leading by four. Williams had the ball ricochet off his foot, allowing the Giants to gain possession and score, taking a 17-14 lead.
Although the 49ers managed to tie the game and force overtime, Williams once again went out for the return in the extra period. Williams was stripped and New York recovered, once again receiving a gift of ideal field position. Just a few plays later, Lawrence Tynes' 31-yard field goal put an end to the Niners' hopes of a Super Bowl.
In a close, low-scoring contest, Williams' pair of blunders cost the Niners 10 points.
No pair of individual plays have had a greater consequence for the organization than those two botched returns from Williams.