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Botched returns stir up ugly memories for 49ers' Williams

Don't worry about Kyle Williams. He's been here before, and he's made it through just fine.

Williams' two botched punt returns Sunday night put a knife in the 49ers' hearts, punctuating a grueling, 20-17 overtime loss to the Giants in the NFC Championship Game at Candlestick Park.

For the 49ers, it was a ghastly departure for a team that set an NFL record for fewest turnovers (10) during the regular season.

For Williams, it was a disturbing case of déjà vu.

Back in November 2009, on his final play at Arizona State, Williams lost a punt deep in Sun Devils territory, allowing bitter rival Arizona to take possession and boot a game-winning field goal. An eerie parallel.

Perhaps it means nothing to Williams now. Even if he has connected these scattered dots in his mind, that Arizona-Arizona State game is light years away, worlds ago, and community theatre compared to Broadway.

Williams sounded resilient Sunday night, telling reporters that his teammates had circled him with support. But who can blame the guy if he has Earnest Byner on speed dial right about now?

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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