CHICAGO -- When Kyle Williams walked out of the locker room Sunday night following the New York Giants' overtime victory over his San Francisco 49ers, his father, Ken Williams, was the first one to greet him.
"He was right there," said Kyle during a Tuesday interview on the Dan Patrick Show, referring to his dad, who is in his 12th year as the White Sox general manager. "He let me know what was coming.
"The first thing he said to me was, 'Are you tough enough and are you a man enough to bounce back from this?' He had no doubt when I said that I was. He knew it, and my whole family knew it."
On this night, after the 49ers' heartbreaking home loss in the National Football Conference Championship Game, Williams spoke to his son with that competitive, general manager tone: Getting knocked down is not the end of the world, and giving up is not an option. The elder Williams was also there as a father, with unconditional support, preparing his son for what would come and wishing he could take the brunt of his son's pain on his shoulders.
That pain came from two late mistakes fielding punts by the younger Williams. With the 49ers holding a 14-10 advantage early in the fourth quarter, a Steve Weatherford kick glanced off of Williams' knee when he appeared unsure on how to handle the bouncing punt. The muffed kick gave the Giants the ball at the 49ers' 29, with Eli Manning throwing for the go-ahead score 2 1/2 minutes later.
A 40-yard kickoff return by Williams started the 49ers' drive for the game-tying field goal, with the contest eventually going to overtime. But in overtime, he tried to make a play on Weatherford's second punt of the extra session, fumbled it and set up the Giants for Lawrence Tynes' winning field goal.
Since that moment, Kyle Williams has handled himself with class and dignity and answered every question about the mishaps. There have been death threats directed at him on Twitter, though.
"It's probably some guy who is talking and probably not too serious," Kyle Williams said on the Dan Patrick Show. "When you get something like that, you don't want to totally ignore it.
"I had the forewarning before I got out of the locker room that social media was going crazy and getting pretty bad and don't look at it. When you do something wrong, you have to take accountability and responsibility. It was pretty bad, but when it comes down to it, a lot is irrelevant.
The biggest sense of dread for Kyle Williams was letting down his teammates.
"You want the guys immediately affected by what I did on the field -- you want these guys not to be the guys saying the nasty things," he said. "To have my teammates get my back, it overtook that. With social media, there's a line, and some crossed it."
But he knows there will be a chance to redeem himself. He won't let these mistakes made while filling in for an injured Ted Ginn Jr., albeit on a national stage, define his burgeoning career, which is a lesson learned in part from his father.
"It's one of those things where there is nothing good about it," Kyle Williams said. "You have to learn from it and move forward if you expect to be anything going forward."