Los Angeles Chargers wide receiver Mike Williams has exceeded expectations so far in year two after an injury-riddled rookie season in 2017. Given his upward trend in production, Williams will have his best performance in Week 4 against the San Francisco 49ers.
The rookie season of Chargers wide receiver Mike Williams was unpleasant. His constant battles with the injury bug cost him loads of playing time during the 2017 campaign, and it showed on the stat sheet.
Williams recorded 11 receptions for just 95 receiving yards in 10 games played, numbers that do not scream first-round draft pick. The University of Clemson alum endured a rookie campaign similar to Chargers running back Melvin Gordon in terms of underwhelming production. It was fair to question L.A’s decision to select Williams with the seventh-overall draft pick in 2017.
And then the 2018 season kicked off. Predictions of a possible bounce-back campaign for Williams have panned out thus far, and now he is primed for his first career 100-yard performance on Sunday when the Chargers take on the 49ers.
Through three games this year, Williams has emerged as a consistent target for veteran quarterback Philip Rivers. The second-year wideout has 11 catches off 15 targets for 189 receiving yards and a team-high three touchdowns. The latter statistic includes two scores in Week 3 against the vaunted Los Angeles Rams defense.
Getting first downs for the Chargers attack has been a strength for Williams, as the South Carolina-born receiver has accounted for 10 first downs. He is tied with fellow pass-catcher Keenan Allen for highest on the team in that category.
Williams has flirted with breaking the 100-yard barrier twice this season. The former Clemson Tiger recorded 81 receiving yards in Week 1 against the Kansas City Chiefs and Week 3 against the Rams. That century-mark will be broken against a porous 49ers secondary struggling to contain opposing passing attacks in 2018.
San Francisco’s pass defense has allowed 287.7 passing yards per game so far this season, which is 27th in the NFL. Giving up 100 receiving yards to opposing pass-catchers has become the norm for the 49ers’ secondary in 2018, as they have done so in all three games this year.
In Week 1 against the Minnesota Vikings, wide receiver Adam Thielen notched 102 receiving yards off six receptions against San Franciso. Detroit Lions pass-catcher Golden Tate recorded 109 receiving yards off seven catches in Week 2, and Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce recorded eight catches for 114 yards in Week 3.
This trend of allowing 100-yard outings to pass catchers will continue in Week 4 against the Chargers. San Fransico’s defensive backfield has displayed zero signs of improvement through three games and the Bolts’ second-year wideout will gash them on Sunday. Williams’ ability to reel in intermediate-range passes from Rivers in tight windows will persist all over the gridiron on Sunday, and expect him to burn the Niners secondary vertically as well.
The Vance, S.C. native might not be the lone Chargers’ pass-catcher to burst through the 100-yard barrier on Sunday, but Williams is a lock to be one of them. Expect a stat line hovering around six catches, 115 receiving yards and two touchdowns.
Do not be surprised to see him enter the NFL Comeback Player of the Year discussion if he continues this trend in production.