Friday, March 22, 2013

49ers Aim to Make Their Special Teams Special

By Kalen Patrick

In my opinion one of the biggest misconceptions of the 49ers is the fact that we have a dominating Special Teams unit. That may have been the case in 2011 with standout ST players like Blake Costanzo on the roster and David Akers being Mr. Automatic, but the 2012 version left a lot to be desired. It's a terrible sign when you feel incredibly uneasy about your kicker when the Field Goal attempt is less than 40 yards. Also all us 49er fans will remember the first play of the 2nd half in the Superbowl when the Baltimore Ravens returned the kickoff for a Touchdown.
There were many cases during the season where the Special Teams cost the team big, in particular the kicker. So what did 49ers GM Trent Baalke do? He only went out and signed the best Free Agent kicker and one of the better kickers of the last decade in Phil Dawson. Dawson has been overlooked and in obscurity due to the fact that he kicked for the consistently bad Cleveland Browns his entire career. Looking at the Numbers Dawson has been among the most consistent and accurate kickers in the league. While this is obviously a temporary solution at the position, you really can't do much better than Dawson. He has experience kicking in an outside stadium where weather conditions are hardly favorable. He will have to adjust to the wind at Candlestick Park, but that is something where his experience will prove invaluable.

Another one of the main areas of concern in my opinion was punt and kickoff coverage. Losing Blake Costanzo to the Chicago Bears in Free Agency in 2012 hurt, also trading Colin Jones to the Carolina Panthers just before the 2012 season also was a noticeable loss on the Special Teams unit. The 49ers have made an effort here by signing Dan Skuta from the Cincinnati Bengals. A standout Special Teams player who will be a vocal leader along with other members of the 49ers ST unit such as CJ Spillman and Tavares Gooden.

Ultimately I feel Trent Baalke and the 49ers have done a great job in addressing a significant weakness in the team with the additions of Dawson and Skuta. Lets not forget that most Special Team additions occur during the draft where the 49ers have a boatload of picks (14 in total).

Coming up on the SF Sports Cave: Gearing up for the SF Giants 2013 season, and a look at the 2013 NFL Draft.

Over and Out

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