LONDON – Kyle Williams job as the team’s primary return man appeared safe – as long as he handled the ball safely.
But Williams had a miserable day on Sunday in the 49ers' 42-10 victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars at Wembley Stadium. He finished the game on the sideline as Anthony Dixon received an opportunity as the deep man on a kickoff return.
Dixon, the reported subject of trade talks with the NFL deadline approaching on Tuesday, turned his one opportunity into a 47-yard kickoff return late in the third quarter.
Coach Jim Harbaugh did not mention Williams’ struggles when asked why Dixon was on the field with the 49ers leading the Jaguars 28-10.
“Been wanting to see Anthony Dixon return, and felt like that would be an opportunity,” Harbaugh said. “He did a heck of a job. That was great to see. He’s been working at that about four weeks. Felt like it was a window of opportunity to get a return in.”
Williams had a rough game from the beginning. He fumbled the opening kickoff of the game but somehow recovered. He also muffed a punt out of bounds and had two Colin Kaepernick passes deflect off his hands. Williams caught just one pass for 7 yards.
Harbaugh declined to address the question of whether Williams’ job as a return man is now in jeopardy.
“We don’t want to take about controversy on who the returner is,” Harbaugh said. “There’s no returner controversy or anything like that. Really, a fair one is a quarterback. If there was ever a quarterback controversy, I can understand talking about that. But I’m not going to talk about a returner controversy. There is no quarterback controversy, just so you know.”
Williams had his worst game of the season at the most inopportune time, as the 49ers have a couple veteran wide receivers set to rejoin the team.
Mario Manningham, coming off an ACL surgery, will return to the 49ers’ 53-man roster after the bye week to face the Carolina Panthers on Nov. 10. And Michael Crabtree is expected to rejoin the team later in the season after a six-month rehab from Achilles surgery.
Williams, who has been the 49ers' No. 2 receiver behind Anquan Boldin, has just 11 receptions for 108 yards in eight games. He is the only 49ers player to return a punt this season. Perrish Cox has been No. 2 on the 49ers' depth chart. LaMichael James, who has been inactive the past three games, has also practiced punt returns extensively.