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Despite a few bright spots, the 49ers' Special Teams unit has been lackluster this year.
So I'll just come out and say it: the 49ers' special teams unit has sucked recently.
Don't get me wrong - there have been some awesome moments this season. I think the high point clearly has to be David Akers tying an NFL record with a 63 yard field goal. But, since then, he just hasn't been his divine self from last season. I know, I know; last season was incredible. I mean, Akers could have kicked his way into the Presidency if he wanted to. A couple of his field goals last year might actually have been vital for National Security. This year, however, he has made 11 on 16 attempts for 68.8% - which is well below his career rate of 81.7%. Part of this has to do with the fact that he is attempting more kicks from 40+ yards; but his accuracy even from those larger distances are down this year.
On the flip side, Andy Lee is having a great year in comparison to all other mortals. For his own standards, he is still doing super well with 47.9 yard per punt. This is down, however, from last year's league leading 50.9. I think somebody on Mt. Olympus got jealous and stole some of his power.
Where the real problems have been, however, are in both phases of the return game. I am a fan of Kyle Williams in the kickoff return role. One of the other major highlights this season was his 94 yard return. That said, he needs to learn that he can't always bounce a return outside. A couple of times, he has lost yardage trying to maneuver around an opposing player. Also, there is no need to run a ball out from nine yards deep in the endzone.
The converse goes for our coverage unit. We were lucking that Anthony Dixon was held on a KR on Sunday. Otherwise, that return would have resulted in much better field position for the Giants. By and large, our coverage unit has let returners bounce outside or pick their way through blocks with ease. I'm not sure why Brad Seely isn't placing a greater emphasis on staying in one's lane. Or, if he is, why the players aren't listening.
One of the major keys to our success last season was the special teams unit. Particularly because it got us excellent field position. I'd like to see that again.