Yesterday morning, we had some discussion about the 49ers ups and downs on special teams against the Kansas City Chiefs. On the one hand, we had Phil Dawson drilling a pair of 55-yard field goals and Parys Haralson blocking a punt. On the other hand, the kickoff and punt coverage units gave up a pair of big returns.
Yesterday morning, Matt Barrows put together some thoughts on the 49ers performance after a film review. Late in the article he mentioned the touchdown on the kickoff return, and he had this helpful information.
The opening kickoff coverage unit consisted of: Phil Dawson, Dan Skuta, Craig Dahl, Tramaine Brock, Cam Johnson, Trenton Robinson, Nick Moody, C.J. Spillman, Corey Lemonier, Anthony Dixon and Perrish Cox.
We have had several discussions about special teams and people often ask who is on which units. I have yet to find a website that concisely breaks that down, so we're left to figure out what we can on our own. Matt's point helps to that end, but I decided to see what else I could find out from the video.
I was going to look at all the units, but for now I decided instead to just focus on punt return and punt coverage. I only looked at the units that were on for the first punt return and the first punt coverage plays. These guys are not necessarily locked in as starters, but it gives us a little bit better an idea.
Gunner defense: C.J. Spillman, Trenton Robinson on one gunner, Tramaine Bock on other
Line: Corey Lemonier, Kassim Osgood, Nick Moody, Dan Skuta, Nate Stupar, Cam Johnson
Off line: Craig Dahl
Returner: LaMichael James
I was not 100% sure Cam Johnson was on the punt return line, but I'm pretty sure about it. Johnson had 15 special teams snaps against the Chiefs, a week after leading the team in special teams snaps against the Broncos. Versus the Chiefs, Corey Lemonier led the way with 20 snaps, Demarucs Dobbs had 18, and Johnson and Nate Stupar had 15. Stupar was an interesting one to see on the 49ers first team punt return unit. That's not to say he is suddenly in the running for a roster spot, but it's interesting to notice.
Of all the aspects of the 49ers team, it is not shocking that special teams had a rough game. The group is working in a lot of new players. Even though several are incredibly experienced in special teams, there is something to be said for having to get used to a whole new set of teammates in this situation. The individual discipline of maintaining a lane is essential, but working with new teammates would seem to create a bit of a shock to the system. Hopefully two more preseason games gets them in regular season form.