After falling off Rams' draft board, Joe Williams eager to play LA

NFL Media's Oklahoma Drill series presents exclusive, quick-hitting one-on-one interviews with players and coaches from around the league. No nonsense -- just football experiences directly from the source.

Joe Williams

Running back, San Francisco 49ers

Born: Sept. 4, 1993

Experience: Rookie

Interview by Brooke Cersosimo | May 17, 2017

[The main] reason for taking the leave [in college] was understanding my sister's death. I didn't have enough time to fully go through the grieving process. I'm 23 years old now and I've finally realized that you've got to put things on halt, even if it's something that you love or are passionate about, just to be right in your life. Taking that time away from football definitely allowed me to do that.

Still, it hasn't truly sunk in that I have this opportunity. I've been dreaming of it since I was 6 years old playing Pop Warner. To be in this moment right now is something I'm going to continue to cherish every day when I wake up.

It's not just diminished in the eyes of the NFL, but in the entire world. Society always thinks of mental health as something you throw blinds at because you hear crazy and you take a step back. For me, with the help of my wife, mom and dad and close family members, it's a strong thing. We're a close family and just having that support allowed me to really pick up my spirits, and I really benefited for the long haul that season when I came back.

Always have a chip on my shoulder. There was a lot of scrutiny towards leaving and when I came back and through this draft process. So having that on my mind is a constant motivator to prove everybody wrong.

Just to be honest and tell my journey from start to finish. I didn't sugarcoat anything just so [NFL teams] knew how genuine everything that I went through was. And so they didn't have any questions or stipulations of what they're getting in a player.

Having to learn a playbook that quick and the speed of the game. [Those were some of the takeaways from rookie minicamp], and learning just how in shape you need to be to play at a high level in the NFL.

They're about winning championships. GM John Lynch won with the Buccaneers. Coach Kyle] Shanahan was there last year with the [Falcons. So they understand what it takes to get to a Lombardi and that stage. Now they're trying to implement that into our class of rookies and the veterans, so we can go out there this season and do great things.

My role, bottom line, is I'm a rookie and fighting for a starting job. I'm going to take every opportunity that I can to prove to my coaches that I'm reliable and can be trusted on the field.

Someone that the quarterback and offense can rely on to make plays and protect the quarterback and run hard out of the backfield. You know, do it all.

[I most want to play the] Los Angeles [Rams], especially because of what happened in the draft and taking me off their boards.

Besides them, I'd go Seahawks. That defense is crazy. Now being able to go against them as a player as opposed to playing them on "Madden" with Richard Sherman, Kam Chancellor and Michael Bennett. It's going to be such a surreal moment to go up against them on Sunday or Thursday or whatever. That's something I look forward to.

Getting hit every play. Whether you're carrying the ball or blocking somebody, it takes a toll on the body.

In the playoffs, we saw Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman being used a lot more with the versatility on offense. It's an honor to be a part of the organization and be under [Shanahan's] wing and be implemented into [the offense] that same way.

We talked about the transition process because [Devontae Booker] went through it last year. He's always been a good mentor to me, someone that I can learn from. [The biggest thing] is just the time you have to put in to sustain your time in the NFL. Now football is your profession.

We just started going with the veterans Monday, and we watch film with the running backs coach, too. Even when I was in the hotel, I'd spend two or three hours going over film and old plays. Just knowing everything for the next day because coach is always asking questions and keeping us on our toes to own everything. I'm just trying to master the playbook right now.

To be in the Hall of Fame. To have my bust in Canton, Ohio. I always looked up to Barry Sanders and Adrian Peterson when I was young watching football. I want to be that overall figure for other kids when they see me running for touchdowns on TV. That's definitely what I want my legacy to be.

Overall, I think my favorite [movie] is "[The] Shawshank Redemption."

**Utah-UCLA]  was a good game,** especially being my second game from coming back from the hiatus I took. I always watched [Reggie Bush and Vince Young when they played at the Rose Bowl, and then all the other guys like O.J. [Simpson] on that field. I just wanted to leave a mark. I didn't know I was going to set a record pre-game, but I was glad once the game was finally over that I made some history on that field.

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