Long-time readers of Niners Nation know that I am a serious fan of special teams. Andy Lee remains one of my favorite players on the team, in large part because he is so good at what he does. I am a fan of those who are great at their craft, and given that special teams can often be overlooked unless things are going poorly, they get my support.
As the 49ers head into their preseason finale, it looks like we'll have a chance to see Lee do some experimentation on the field. Earlier in the offseason, Lee mentioned that he was working on a knuckle punt. According to Mindi Bach, Lee is hoping to get a chance to break it out on Thursday against the Chargers.
The 49ers cut backup punter/kicker Colton Schmidt, so Lee will get every punting opportunity. He has been working on the punt in practice, and said that he first learned it from Joe Nedney, who had learned it in Tennessee from Craig Hentrich. He said he has been able to get it on occasion in practice, but when he gets out with the punting unit, he has struggled.
Lee broke down the punt a bit:
"In Candlestick, it's pretty windy and the ball can move around. So when it comes off, you want it to move a little bit, but more like a slow, slow, real slow rotation that kind of moves around, and it can be harder for the returner to catch." Lee said. "It can cause some fumbles. It can do some things like that, and sometimes when I hit the rugby punt it will come out a little slower rotation so it's kind of that same idea except making it move maybe four rotations the whole time it's in the air."
Kyle Williams talked about how crazy the movement can be. Given that Andy Lee is already the best punter in the NFL, adding a weapon like this would be pretty crazy. More importantly, it gives me a chance to bust out this video.