Kyle Williams and Kendall Hunter experienced very eerie returns Tuesday to the Superdome, where their season ended two months.
Williams and Hunter both recalled how their cleats stuck in the artificial turf when they got injured during the 49ers' Nov. 25 win over the New Orleans Saints. Williams tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee and Hunter tore his left Achilles tendon.
Both players described their injuries as freak accidents while appearing with the 49ers teammates at the Super Bowl's Media Day. But both also showed lingering concerns over the field that the 49ers and Ravens will play on Sunday for the Lombardi Trophy.
Said Hunter: "Playing on grass, your cleats come out. On turf, sometimes cleats stick."
Williams believes the surface contributed to his non-contact injury: "My cleat got stuck, so my body went one way and my knee didn't."
Running backs coach Tom Rathman, who played on the 49ers' Super Bowl-winning team 23 years ago in the Superdome, dismissed any notion that the turf adds a danger element.
"You can lose players any game. It's not just the surface," Rathman said. "But it is unfortunate we lost two guys in this stadium."
Although they missed the final five games of the regular season, their contributions to this Super Bowl run haven't been ignored. Hunter rushed for 371 yards and a touchdown while Williams tallied 14 receptions for 212 yards and a touchdown.
Williams: "Donte Whitner came up to me on the plane and said, 'Don't think for a second we could be here without you, Kendall and Mario (Manningham). That made us all feel better. When you sit, you think you don't have fingerprints on this."
Both players expect to be fully healthy by training camp this summer.
"I'm excited for the guys to get a chance to get a ring," Hunter said. "It's very disappointing, but at the same time there's nothing I can do about it."
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