Marc Sessler of NFL.com comprised a list of one prime candidate from each of the league's 32 teams that could earn their first Pro Bowl nod in 2020. Deebo Samuel and Raheem Mostert are names that come to mind, but one of the most underrated and underappreciated candidates is sixth year cornerback K'Waun Williams.
Nickel cornerbacks have not been included on the ballot in the past. Fellow cornerback Richard Sherman campaigned for his teammate to be added to the Pro Bowl ballot back in November after originally being left off. Shortly thereafter, the NFL obliged by adding his name to the vote.
Williams was key to the 49ers defensive success in 2019. He registered 51 total tackles, 35 solo, four forced fumbles, two passes defended and two interceptions through 15 games. As a part of the league's best passing defense, he also limited opposing quarterbacks to a 68.9 passer rating when targeting him.
Football analytics site Pro Football Focus graded out Williams and Sherman as the top cornerback duo in the league. Williams earned an overall PFF grade of 77.2, one of the best at his position. In coverage, he allowed just one touchdown on 70 targets, including the playoffs. Williams contributed to a 49ers secondary that allowed the lowest yards per reception average in 2019 (9.7).
"(Williams) is just so dynamic in every phase," Sherman said last December. "If you just look at him and his pass-rushing ability on its own, it's outstanding. If you look at him in terms of just coverage ability, it's outstanding. If you look at him in terms of run, it's outstanding.
"(He's) a huge playmaker for us, and that's what allows us to play the type of defense we do."
He also landed on NFL Network analytics expert Cynthia Frelund's list of the most underappreciated player on each team. According to Frelund, "Williams allowed only 8.1 yards per reception against the slot (second-lowest among qualified players at the position) and gave up only 18 first-down receptions on 63 targets in the regular season."
Here's what Sessler had to say about Williams:
"I'm dialing up Williams, who emerged as PFF's seventh-highest graded corner inside San Francisco's Super Bowl defense… His teammates know the outside world is sluggish to catch up, with fullback Kyle Juszczyk recently calling Williams 'the most underrated player in the league.' The obstacle here is more playing time, but Williams rolls into 2020 as a key component inside a white-knuckle defense."
If Williams can replicate or supplant his production from last season, it will be difficult for the corner to continue to fly under the radar in 2020.