Prior to the first meetup between the San Francisco 49ers and Carolina Panthers this season, I took a brief look at Ted Ginn Jr. and what he's done with the latter thus far this season. Ginn was struggling as a returner at that point in the season, or rather, he really didn't attempt very many returns.
My conclusion was thus: he'd improved as a receiver and regressed as a returner. I stand by this analysis, though there were definitely some outliers this season. One outlier was ... the 49ers game.
Ginn didn't blow anyone away in that game, of course, but he was one thing that surprised me: a factor. Ginn had two decent punt returns in that game, one that went 19 yards and one that went 25 yards. The second return took the Panthers into 49ers territory, where they picked up another ... 9 yards on seven plays to get the Panthers in range for a 53-yard field goal.
That field goal resulted in a Carolina win. Ginn didn't do anything else in that game, but as a return man, he made a difference. That's something that definitely can't happen this time around, but there is one thing that's different since that game: Kassim Osgood.
Osgood has been great on special teams this season, contributing to one of the best coverage units in the league. But Osgood was left out of that game to make room for an actual wide receiver to contribute. He's notably the faster of San Francisco's coverage men, so he could have been a factor. I'll go ahead again and say that Ginn probably won't be a factor in this one on his own merits, but Osgood should make a difference if I happen to be wrong again.
- Today's links
- Seahawks NFC Championship Game tickets will NOT be available for California, North Carolina billing addresses
- #Channel49 Mailbag: Colin Kaepernick's Production, Michael Crabtree's Impact, Carolina's Defense & More
- 49ers-Panthers spread: All hail the disrespect card!
- Niners Nation Podcast: 49ers-Panthers story lines for the weekend