When receiver A.J. Jenkins first saw the Chiefs had claimed Kyle Williams off waivers Wednesday, he promptly told quarterback Alex Smith. All three were teammates in San Francisco last season.
“He was kind of surprised like, ‘Really, for real?’” Jenkins said of Smith. “Honestly, I didn’t even know they waived Kyle until he signed here. It was a surprise to both of us.”
A pleasant one, no doubt.
“I see a lot of my little brothers around here, especially that one right there,” Williams said in the Chiefs locker room Thursday, while pointing toward Jenkins. “It makes the transition a little bit easier.”
The 25-year old Williams, who spent the previous three seasons with the 49ers, said learning a new playbook and terminology can be a daunting task — “it’s like they’re speaking Spanish up there,” he said of the Chiefs coaches.
But after catching 47 passes for 574 yards and four touchdowns over his four-year career, Williams also acknowledged it’s almost a relief to get a fresh start.
“In a way it is,” Williams said. “I’m not trying to run from anything that happened there or anything like that.”
Williams notably received death threats from fans after he lost two fumbles on punt returns in the 49ers’ 20-17 loss to the New York Giants in the 2012 NFC championship game. He then lost his job as a returner this season.
“There were some times out there that were definitely learning experiences,” Williams said. “But moving forward, I’m just excited about the future.”
Special teams coordinator Dave Toub said Williams will likely suit up Sunday against Denver, though it remains to be seen how much of an impact he’ll make.
“We plan on using him in some capacity during this game,” Toub said. “He’ll be a backup punt returner, backup kick returner if something happens to one of our guys, we have a guy that’s a viable candidate to be able to play for us.”
Especially if the ankle injury that starting punt returner Dexter McCluster suffered in practice Wednesday continues to linger. McCluster, however, seems like a decent bet to play. He practiced Thursday, albeit with heavy tape around his ankle, and during the portion of practice that was open to the media, McCluster fielded punts alongside starting kick returner Quintin Demps, receiver Frankie Hammond, receiver Rashad Ross and of course, Williams.
“He’s a guy that is extremely good at catching the ball,” Toub said of Williams. “He’s very, very quick and he’s got great top-end speed. He’s a guy that teams have to contend with. He’s a good player.”
But offensive coordinator Doug Pederson stopped short of saying Williams could contribute on offense this week, though the staff will evaluate him at practice and see where he’s at come Saturday.
“It would really kind of be an injustice to him to put him out there (without) knowing our system,” Pederson said.
Still, Pederson said the staff was impressed with Williams’ film from San Francisco, where he spent his first three years in the slot and moved to the outside this season because of injuries to other players. He caught 12 passes for 113 yards.
“He can be explosive with the ball in his hands,” Pederson said. “We know his ability to block. He’s a tough, physical kid with some speed. We’ve just got to get him in practice and see what he can do in situations where he has a chance to make a play.”
Williams’ buddies from San Francisco are making sure he adapts as quickly as possible.
“It’s good to be back with him, it’s good to be back with Alex and it’s good to have some people that I’m already familiar with around here.”
Chiefs punter Dustin Colquitt missed practice Thursday because his wife went into labor.
Colquitt said last week that he and his wife, Christia, would be welcoming their fifth child during the bye week.
“I just dialed up to the maker and said we need it on the bye week if possible,” Colquitt said. “ When the schedule came out, as a Christian man I thought, that could not have been better timing.”Injury report
Defensive end Mike Catapano (ankle) was a full participant in practice Thursday. He was limited Wednesday, along with McCluster.
Denver quarterback Peyton Manning was limited Thursday after he did not practice Wednesday. He has repeatedly said he play.