Jim Schwartz on Tuesday morning said he didn’t want to tip his hand.
After all, we know Avonte Maddox is going to miss at least this weekend’s game with an ankle injury and what good would it do for Schwartz to tell the 49ers who’s starting in his place?
But on Sunday when Maddox came out of the game, it was veteran practice squad call-up Trevor Williams, who replaced him. And Schwartz seemed pretty impressed by Williams’ play. Williams has some NFL experience and it showed against the Bengals.
So it’s seeming pretty likely he’ll be the guy opposite Darius Slay on Sunday.
“I think it's an important point. He's played,” Schwartz said. “It wasn't his first time when he had to go in and play the game. He didn't bat an eye. He was ready. Probably said to himself, ‘Yeah, what took you guys so long?’ I mean that's what you get with those guys. And he covered with confidence. He wasn't perfect, gave up a completion, but they also tried to double-move him on one play. He played it like a veteran player, didn't bite the cheese on a play and went out and battled.
“In overtime we played 12 straight snaps of man-to-man. It was four-man pass rush and man-to-man every single snap. And not only was Trev up for that challenge, but all the other guys too. Strap (Cre’Von LeBlanc) made a play, [Nickell Robey-Coleman] made a play, Slay made a couple. Those guys really took it upon themselves and it really put -- they wanted that pressure on themselves to go get those guys covered. And I was also proud of their execution, but I was really more proud of the attitude that they went into that overtime with."
Williams, 27, has had a really interesting NFL career.
But he’s played at a high level before.
After going undrafted out of Penn State back in 2016, Williams worked his way up from the practice squad and ended up starting 27 games for the Chargers from 2016-2018.
In 2017, Williams started 15 games, had 2 interceptions and 13 pass-breakups. He graded out as the 10th best cornerback in the entire league that season, according to ProFootballFocus.
It looked like his career was on a clear upward trajectory.
But in 2018, Williams played in nine games before he landed on IR and that came after a different injury plagued him during the season.
Last year, he was back with the Chargers and feeling healthy during the offseason, but then he suffered a quad injury and was placed on IR. By October, the Chargers waived him and he was claimed by the Cardinals. He played two games with the Cardinals in 2019 before they released him.
And then Williams was without a team until the Eagles signed him to a futures deal in January.
Williams didn’t even make it to training camp with the Eagles. They released him on July 21 and didn’t bring him back until Aug. 26. Eventually, he landed on their practice squad.
So think about the roller coaster career Williams has had. He fought his way off the practice squad as an undrafted player, became a vital part of the Chargers’ defense, got hurt, got released, got signed by the Cardinals and played for them, got released by them, signed with the Eagles, got added to their practice squad, called up and thrown into the fire on Sunday.
And now he’s probably getting ready to start again for the first time since 2018. We’ll find out soon enough if he’s up for it.