49ers roster turnover: Have special teams improved?

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The 49ers made a significant change on special teams, as they signed kicker Phil Dawson. However, the 49ers also added several key options for their coverage and return units. With the changes, are the 49ers better, worse or the same compared to the end of last season?

The 49ers rookies reported to training camp last Friday, and veterans are required to report by Wednesday. We're continuing our countdown to training camp with the final article of our series titled "49ers roster turnover." I've been going through the various position groups and considering how the roster has changed over the last 12 months. We look at the team's depth chart heading into the first preseason game last year, prior to Week 1 of the regular season, the Super Bowl and then how it currently stands. Four depth charts give us an idea of how the roster developed over the course of the year.

Today, we wrap things up by looking at the 49ers special teams. This one is different than the rest of the positions, because the depth charts presented do not nearly reflect the special teams units. We don't get a depth chart for the return units, the coverage folks, the blockers on field goals and punts. I think this year I'd like to try and figure it out to some extent early in the season. We'll see how that plays out.

Here is a look at the how the depth chart that we know has shaken out over the last 12 months.

Preseason 2012 depth chart

K: David Akers, Giorgio Tavecchio
P: Andy Lee
LS: Brian Jennings, Kyle Nelson
PR: Ted Ginn Jr., Kyle Williams, LaMichael James
KR: Ted Ginn Jr., Kendall Hunter, LaMichael James

Week 1 depth chart

K: David Akers
P: Andy Lee
LS: Brian Jennings
PR: Ted Ginn Jr., Kyle Williams, LaMichael James
KR: Ted Ginn Jr., Kendall Hunter, LaMichael James

Super Bowl depth chart

K: David Akers
P: Andy Lee
LS: Brian Jennings
PR: Ted Ginn Jr., LaMichael James
KR: Ted Ginn Jr., LaMichael James

Current depth chart

K: Phil Dawson
P: Andy Lee
LS: Brian Jennings, Kyle Nelson, Kevin McDermott
PR: Kyle Williams, LaMichael James, Perrish Cox
KR: LaMichael James, Quinton Patton, Ricardo Lockette, B.J. Daniels

The most notable change on special teams is 49ers decision to sign kicker Phil Dawson to replace David Akers. Dawson should hopefully be an improvement in the field goal department, but he has had his struggles at times in terms of kickoff returns. Of course, that is a natural segue to the 49ers real changes on special teams.

The 49ers made several moves that will impact their special teams. They signed Dan Skuta, Craig Dahl, Raymond Ventrone and Kassim Osgood, while also drafting Nick Moody. These five, and others, will get a chance to overhaul a special teams corps that struggled with inconsistency in 2012. The 49ers resurgence in 2011 was due in part to a dominant special teams group. The 49ers overcame it for the most part in 2012, but it was a unit that needed some re-shuffling.

The depth chart does also show some differences with the departure of Ted Ginn. The 49ers are going all in with a new return man, and right now Kyle Williams and LaMichael James are the leading candidates. I would hope for a fairly extensive competition in the preseason, but at the very least, LaMichael James will be handling kickoff duties. He struggled with punt returns in preseason action last year, but he's had a full year to improve. We'll see what it brings, and if he ends up as the exclusive return man for the 49ers.

As you vote on this, feel free to consider all the additions, and not just the limited names on the depth charts above.

Keep Reading:

SB Nation Featured Video
X
Log In Sign Up

forgot?
Log In Sign Up

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.

Join Niners Nation

You must be a member of Niners Nation to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Niners Nation. You should read them.

Join Niners Nation

You must be a member of Niners Nation to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Niners Nation. You should read them.

Spinner.vc97ec6e

Authenticating

Great!

Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.

tracking_pixel_9341_tracker