Kyle Williams said Monday in an ESPN Radio interview that he is shocked by the threats he has received on social media platforms but thanked "true 49ers fans" and his teammates for their support in the aftermath of his fumble that cost the San Francisco 49ers a trip to the Super Bowl.
In an interview with ESPN Radio's "Hill & Schlereth" on Monday night, the 49ers receiver, who muffed two punt returns that ending up costing his team 10 points Sunday, said his family had warned him that fans' reactions to his performance likely would be ugly. His fumble in overtime set up the Giants for a short field goal, which they converted for the win in the NFC Championship Game.
"It was kind of shocking," Williams said of receiving the threats. "I kind of had been forewarned before I even got to the point where I could check it. I was forewarned by some of my family members and some of my friends that were there to not to look at the Twitter and the Facebook because it was going to be pretty bad."
Williams talked of the imaginary "line" that exists between athletes and fans, one that has become blurred, especially in the age of social media.
"Some people cross that line and don't think twice about it ... don't think that there's somebody on the other side of that line that may feel that or that may have to respond to that or may have to deal with that," Williams said.
"People just write blindly and I guess that's to be expected with how open Twitter is and how open Facebook is. Again, there's a line and some people cross it and some people have respect for it."
Williams, however, thanked the fans who have supported him.
"True 49ers fans have come to my support although they realize that I made a mistake, just like I realize it," he said. "I made a mistake in a key situation, but people realize I've busted my tail all year and I think my teammates realize that, too. Things happen in the game of football and you've got to bounce back from it. You've got to realize that you've made a mistake and own up to it."
Kenny Williams, the receiver's father and general manager of the Chicago White Sox, told ESPNChicago.com of the threats that his son has received.
"I'm used to the years of criticism and threats on my life from time to time, but I have to hear about threats on your son's life while you're watching TV and it certainly makes you question our culture of sports as it stands," Kenny Williams said.
Kenny Williams said that NFL security is taking the threats seriously. Kyle Williams said his father has been a big help during this trying time.
"Just to be able to talk to my dad and have him say 'I've been here before, I've been in your shoes before with the threats and things like that,' and to not pay attention so much to what people are saying in the outside world but to who is talking in the locker room and what they are saying and the guys that really matter as far as family and close friends and stuff like that," he said.
On Tuesday, Giants linebacker Michael Boley called the death threats Williams received "unfortunate."
"For people to do that, for us as players, this is a tough business," Boley said. "We're all tremendous athletes and we're here for a reason, part of a select few that made it this far. And people don't realize how tough it is. It's a tough job. And as far as for him, I hope he keeps his head up, and this is just a minor setback."
Williams said his teammates have been great to him, even right after the loss.
"I was kind of surprised by that, actually. Just because I felt like I let everybody down in the locker room," he said. "Just to get the response that I got from those guys, everybody basically on the team, coming up to me and telling me they appreciated my effort and they knew I was trying to make a play. It wasn't all on me, we lose as a team and win as a team."
Kenny Williams also said Monday that his son injured his shoulder during the game but that his family doesn't make excuses. Kyle Williams echoed that sentiment.
"You get dinged up in a football game just about every time you go out there. You're never going to be 100 percent playing in the NFL," he said.
"I'm not looking for that or saying the thing that happened to my shoulder was the cause for any of it. I was fine to play, obviously I kept playing. That's not the reason I fumbled by any means. I was trying to make a play, the guy got his hand in there and punched the ball out."
Devin Thomas, who recovered the fumble in overtime, was asked Sunday if Williams had a history of fumbling.
"All we know is, if we could put some hits on him ... he's had a lot of concussions. We were just like, 'Man, we gotta put a hit on that guy.' (Tyler) Sash did a good job early, hitting him. He got kind of dazed when he got up. I feel like that made a difference. He coughed it up and I had to jump on the ball."
League spokesman Greg Aiello said in an email that the Giants did nothing against the rules.
"Players are held accountable for their actions on the field. There were no illegal hits to the head or neck area against Kyle Williams on Sunday," Aiello said. "There was no conduct by the Giants of any kind that would suggest an effort to injure Kyle Williams in any way."
Williams' agent, Ken Sarnoff, said the second-year pro is aware of the Giants' postgame comments but is done speaking publicly and is ready to move forward toward the 2012 season. The 49ers had no comment Tuesday.
Both Boley and New York defensive captain Justin Tuck denied that the Giants talk about their opposition's injury history and going after them harder because they're injured. New York Magazine reported Monday that the Giants targeted Williams for big hits because of his history of concussions.
"In our meeting we didn't talk about it. Concussions (are) a big deal. It's something that we don't teach or we don't talk about it. We don't want to hurt anybody. We're a fraternity of brothers, all across the league. We don't want to see anybody get hurt," Boley said. "When you're out on the field playing, you don't think about somebody's past injuries."
Tuck echoed Boley's sentiment.
"Obviously, we consider ourselves to be a physical group, and we wanna hit everybody, but I don't think we've every talked about knocking anyone out with concussions or anything like that. We try to stay away from that," Tuck said. "But it wasn't like we weren't trying to hit him. We were definitely trying to hit him and get a lot of hats on him, because he might not have been as comfortable out there as say a Ted Ginn who did it all year. But as far as trying to knock him out of the football game, no."
Information from ESPNNewYork.com's Mike Mazzeo, ESPNNewYork.com's Rich Cimini, ESPNChicago.com's Doug Padilla and The Associated Press was used in this report.