Over the course of the offseason, the 49ers have made a variety of moves that will likely shore up a special teams unit that had its struggles last season. The loss of Michael Robinson to Seattle and Scott McKillop to injury cost the team two of its top special teams players and at times the unit played accordingly. Football Outsiders ranked them 22nd in special teams with their biggest weakness coming in kickoff coverage. FO ranked the 49ers 30th in the NFL on their kickoff coverage.
The 49ers will have McKillop back in the lineup and they've added Colin Jones in the draft and Blake Costanza in free agency. Jones was a safety at TCU but was brought in to basically a specialist on the special teams units. With some blazing speed, if he can get off the blockers he could prove to be valuable on kickoff and punt coverage. Costanza was apparently a special teams demon for 49ers special teams coordinator Brad Seely. He was left untendered by the Browns, so they didn't value him incredibly. It will be interesting to see if Seely is able to get him on to the roster for special teams duties.
These additions and returns should benefit special teams, but for kickoff coverage in particular it will be interesting to see how the new rules affect touchbacks and returns. That will be something worth keeping an eye on through the preseason. We might see touchdown returns because of newly formed special teams units, but the touchbacks will be worth keeping an eye on starting next week.
Kickoff rule aside, do the 49ers offseason additions give you more confidence in the special teams units? Or does it make much difference at this point?