It doesn’t look like 49ers punt returner Ted Ginn is going to be able to play for the 49ers against the Packers on Sunday because of an ankle injury.
That likely brings back memories of the NFC Championship Game when Ginn was injured and Kyle Williams had to take over as the team’s punt returner. For the few people who might not remember what happened, Williams fumbled twice to help the Giants get scores that enabled them to advance to the Super Bowl by a 20-17 margin.
It seems natural that coach Jim Harbaugh would get asked questions about going back to Williams given the way that game ended. Harbaugh expressed confidence in Williams, just as the 49ers have since the two fumbles helped end their season, but later bristled when there was another question that reference the punt returner’s struggles against the Giants.
“We don’t, we don’t … why’d you bring that up?” Harbaugh replied, according to Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee. “Why would we be taking about that? When is enough enough?”
There was a followup, which centered on whether Harbaugh would have any words of encouragement for Williams before Sunday’s game. Harbaugh didn’t welcome that question any more than the first one.
“I should ask you, why did you bring that up?” Harbaugh asked. “Why do you continue to ask that question? What is the reasoning?”
According to Barrows, a 49ers spokesman stepped in at that point to end the session.
Both the questions and Harbaugh’s response are understandable, although neither one is really necessary. The 49ers have made it clear that they have confidence in Williams’ ability for the last eight months so there’s no reason to think they’d waver when faced with actually having to back up that confidence. It’s fair to wonder what the reasoning is to keep asking questions that have already been answered a dozen times.
Having said that, Harbaugh’s been around long enough to know why people are bringing that up and he’s been around long enough to know that you sometimes wind up answering the same question five different times. It would have been easy to just say that he’s confident in Williams or to say that he’s answered the question without things getting hostile.
The important thing is that Williams is going to get his chance to wipe away the memories from January in Lambeau Field this weekend. We don’t know whether he’ll do that or not, but we know that queries about his performance will be asked with full knowledge that Harbaugh might not want to talk about it.