Williams had one punt in the fourth quarter that skimmed off of his knee and was recovered by the New York Giants. Eli Manning went on to throw a go-ahead touchdown to Mario Manningham to put the Giants up 17-14 on the 49ers.
The 49ers were able to force the game into overtime.
However, bad luck struck again as Williams was stripped on a punt return that led to the game-winning field goal by Lawrence Tynes to send the Giants to the Super Bowl. The 49ers' great season was crushed and Williams officially became the goat of the NFC Championship game.
Williams has taken as much heat for the 49ers' loss as Billy Cundiff has for missing the game-tying field goal in the AFC Championship game.
As easy as it is to do, the loss cannot be completely blamed on Williams.
The 49ers offense was lackluster throughout the entire game, particularly the passing attack.
Alex Smith was coming off of a career performance against the New Orleans Saints. He led his 49ers down the field twice in the fourth quarter going back and forth with MVP front-runner Drew Brees. Smith was able to pull out the biggest win of his career when he had all but officially been labeled a bust.
Who is to blame for the 49ers' loss?
Smith dazzled many and proved many skeptics wrong, although not everyone was on board with the idea that Smith was anything more than a game manager.
He faced a tough defense in the New York Giants, especially considering they are playing their best football of the season.
Smith went 12-of-26 with just 196 yards and two touchdowns.
The two touchdowns certainly increase the appeal of that stat line, but when looking closer you can see that they were just a couple nice passes to Vernon Davis who turned them into big plays. Smith made those throws, but they are very small samples on his entire body of work in the NFC Championship game.
San Francisco's receivers were unable to find any holes in the Giants secondary. The only wide receiver that even caught a pass was Michael Crabtree and that was only for three yards. The rest of the completions were to tight ends and running backs.
Not all of the blame can be placed on Smith, but he has to take some of it.
I would put more of the blame on the 49ers' offensive game plan. They made no adjustments throughout the course of the game to counter what the Giants were throwing at them.
Even though the Giants defense is playing great football, they are not a dominant unit. The 49ers should have been able to take advantage of several of the opportunities they had in overtime before Williams was stripped on the punt return.
It is very easy to put the blame on Williams right away.
However, the 49ers had chances to win well before that now-infamous fumble. If you cannot capitalize on the chances you are given, the other team eventually will.
There is no denying that Williams messed up, but this loss can't fall solely on his shoulders.