The Chiefs have an abundance of riches on offenses. Driven by Patrick Mahomes, having a tight end with four consecutive 1,000-yard seasons in Travis Kelce, and having the league’s biggest threat to score from anywhere on the field in Tyreek Hill, they are stocked with premier options at those positions. Limiting the production from those core offensive assets will be the primary objective for the 49ers defense on Sunday, but when it comes to the ancillary components of the Chiefs offense that need to make an impact, running back Damien Williams doesn’t carry a lot of buzz.
It’s easy to understand why. Williams is a 27-year old running back who has never even had 500 yards rushing in an NFL regular season. After signing Williams to a two-year contract extension this past offseason, Williams was ready to take the next step in his career in the league’s best offense. Things didn’t go as planned as Kansas City brought in LeSean McCoy late in the preseason to share the backfield with Williams. Then Williams himself got off to a horrible start to the season through performance and battling a number of injuries.
Through the opening eight games of the season, Williams had totaled 48 carries for 100 yards (2.1 YPC) and two rushing touchdowns to go along with 15 receptions for 115 yards and another score. He missed two games over that stretch with a knee injury and played on just 181 offensive snaps (35.1% of the team total).
Week 9 is when things began to shift to Williams in season. Against the Vikings that week, he played a then-season-high 73% of the offensive snaps, posting season-highs in touches (14) and yards from scrimmage (128), largely backed on a 91-yard touchdown run, matching the longest run in Chiefs’ history. Health has still been a bugaboo as he still missed two full games with a rib injury and played just 12 snaps in another game when suffered that injury, but over his final seven games played, Williams has rushed 92 times for 490 yards and six touchdowns while catching 22-of-30 targets for 163 yards and two more touchdowns. When he has been healthy enough to play over the back half of the season, the Chiefs have turned over their backfield to him. Here are his past six full games played and his usage in those games.
- Week 9: 73% of the snaps, 14/19 backfield touches, 128 yards from scrimmage, 1 TD (20.8 PPR Points)
- Week 10: 73% snaps, 24/29 touches, 109 YFS (13.9 points)
- Week 16: 53% snaps, 19/31 touches, 92 YFS, 1 TD (18.2 points)
- Week 17: 71% snaps, 16/21 touches, 154 YFS, 2 TD (31.4 points)
- Div. Round: 97% snaps, 14/14 touches, 68 YFS, 2 TD (26.8 points)
- AFC Champ.: 85% snaps, 22/23 touches, 89 YFS, 1 TD (19.9 points)
This postseason, Williams has played 117-of-129 offensive snaps and has handled 36-of-37 backfield touches for the Chiefs. The Chiefs have given him control of the backfield in each of those games because they’ve simply just been a better offense when Williams has been on the field this season.
|Cat.||Williams on Field||Off|
Williams is by no means the sole proprietor of those successful splits, but the offense has operated at a higher level with him on the field. As evidence of this postseason in which Mahomes has been the leading rusher for the Chiefs in each playoff game, it’s not all about what Williams can do on the ground, but having him available that can make a difference in the offense.
The playoffs are where Williams has been at his best for the Chiefs. In four playoff games over the past two seasons, Williams has scored eight of the 20 offensive touchdowns for the Chiefs. He has three receiving scores in those games, second on the team to only Kelce (4) while catching five or more passes in three of those four playoff games.
Getting Williams going in all components of the offense will be a tough ask in the Super Bowl. During the regular season, San Francisco was seventh in rushing points allowed per game to running backs (10.8) and first in receiving points allowed to the position (6.4 per game). The 49ers haven’t allowed 100 yards from scrimmage to a back since Chris Carson in Week 10. That spilled over into the postseason as they limited Dalvin Cook to 26 yards from scrimmage on 15 touches in the Divisional Round. They were somewhat more mortal in the NFC Championship game, allowing Aaron Jones to tally 83 yards and two touchdowns on 17 touches.
Despite their overall success, San Francisco has at time allowed positive production to combo backs this season. Kenyan Drake had 242 total yards and caught 10 passes in two games versus the 49ers this season. Christian McCaffrey (155 YFS), Ronald Jones (93 YFS), and Travis Homer (92 YFS) also had solid production in games against San Francisco with dual usage. But those were all losses and on the other hand, San Francisco also shut down Dalvin Cook (26 yards), Alvin Kamara (43 yards), and Aaron Jones in their other meeting (38 yards) with him in the regular season.
Damien Williams Super Bowl Props
per DraftKings Sportsbook
- First to score (+650), To score (-139)
- o/u 50.5 rushing yards (over -125, under, +100)
- o/u 13.5 rushing attempts (over -112, under -112)
- o/u 4.5 receptions (over +159, under -200)
- o/u 29.5 receiving yards (over -112, under 29.5)