The San Francisco 49ers are in full stride, operating the “rock” on all three departments of offense, defense, and “SPECIAL TEAMS”. Last season, the 49ers suffered an Achilles heel with their special teams unit; the Niners allowed an average of 26- yards per return and 10.5 yards on punts. Let’s not forget the kick return by (Super Bowl Champions) Baltimore’s wide-receiver Jacoby Jones, taking the rock 108 yards down the field for the easy touchdown against the reigning NFC champions.
For this (2013-2014) season, the 49ers have vastly improved their special teams coverage; allowing just an average of 20 yards per kick return and 5.7 yards on punts. Respectively, they were ranked 31st against the kick-returns/punt-returns last season, compared to today where they are now classified as No.8 and No.12 in the NFL. The San Francisco offense and defense have been performing at a “vintage” level; adding this incredible coverage on special teams have now molded this organization into a meritorious 3-dimensional life form.
The 49ers’ front office (GM Trent Baalke and Co.) have done a wonderful job during the offseason, acquiring veterans (WR/ST) Kassim Osgood and (S/ST) Bubba Ventrone to help bolster their woeful special teams unit from last year (2012-2013 season). After the departure of (LB/ST) Blake Constanzo, the 49ers on special teams have been struggling emphatically. However, after the signing of Cincinnati Bengal (LB/ST) Dan Skuta, Texas state cornerback speedster Darryl Morris (rookie), and the leadership qualities of (S) C.J. Spillman; the Niners have now revitalized their special teams morale ten-fold.
Ultimately, the biggest off-season acquisition would be the sharp-kicker out of Cleveland, (K) Phil Dawson. After (K) David Aker’s double sports’ hernia (pelvic injury), he was never the same kicker missing a total of 57 kicks (especially the pivotal game-changers) during his 2-season stay with the 49ers. As a matter of fact, the decision to drop the “unpredictable” Akers for the “reliable” Dawson was the #1 priority the 49ers’ had to address ASAP.
Dawson has made 9 out of 12 attempts at the field goal line, kicking at a decent 75 percent average. Another reason why the 49ers are dominating on defense is because of their Pro-Bowl (P) Andy Lee. This season he’s punting at an average of 48.3 yards, categorizing him at (No.3) in the NFL as one of the best punters in the league. Lee always finds a way to give the 49er defense a beneficial “field position”. He has a knack for pinning the opposing offensive line in their own 20-yard territory on numerous occasions. Fortunately, the 10-year veteran kicker earned his third NFC Special Teams honor against the Tennessee Titans (kicked a booming 58-yarder).
If the special teams unit can continue to contribute easy points on the scoreboard, it will definitely “motivate” and “influence” the 49er offense/defense to “perform” on an intimidating 3-dimensional note.