The San Francisco 49ers pulled out the 33-14 victory in Week 15, and once again special teams played a big role. The 49ers offense and defense had their positives, but special teams had another monster day.
The most notable play came late in the game when the 49ers led 23-14. They had just kicked a field goal after a ten minute drive, and seemed ready to close the game out. And then the Bucs decided to get cute on the ensuing kick return:
Kendall Hunter was quick to get to the ball, grab it and dive in the end zone. This put the 49ers up 30-14 and locked up the game. The 49ers probably win even without this return, but it was nice to build a significant cushion to wrap things up.
Special teams has been one of the stories of the season. Phil Dawson extended his franchise record field goal conversion streak, converting four on Sunday. He's converted 27 of 30 field goals, and hasn't missed since his 70+ free kick attempt against the Rams. A year after the 49ers stumbled through David Akers ugly season, Dawson has been a breath of fresh air on special teams.
Finally, LaMichael James had a strong game as a punt returner. He returned five punts for 51 yards, with a long of 15. He did not break a big return in the game, but his consistently solid returns is exactly what the 49ers needed after releasing Kyle Williams.
All in all, it was a strong day by the special teams units.