I should have the NFC West divisional discussion for offensive tackles at some point today. In the meantime, I thought we'd take a look at two positions that will likely involve no competition at all this offseason: the kicker and the punter. It's been a long time since the 49ers were this set at two relatively quietly important positions. After this we'll just have tight ends left, which I'll be bringing to you sometime next week. At that point I'll move on to my first 53-man roster projection. Not much else is expected to happen this offseason, so it seems as good a time as any.
In case you missed them, we've already addressed linebacker, safeties, wide receivers, cornerbacks, offensive line, running backs, defensive line, and quarterbacks.
Andy Lee, Joe Nedney
Likely to be struck down for challenging the Gods
I think this post can be considered more of a celebration of Andy Lee and Joe Nedney. Among kickers and punters, Joe Nedney will likely finish this season ranked 7th in games played. He's 7th in field goal attempts and 4th in field goals made, with the second best field goal percentage in franchise history behind only Jeff Wilkins. As a local guy (San Jose State) who followed some pretty atrocious kickers, Nedney is definitely a fan favorite. Given how tight the NFC West could be this season, and the fact that the 49ers probably won't be blowing many teams out, I'd expect Nedney to factor into many of the decisions this season.
Andy Lee is a guy who at this point can't do much wrong. As our all-time punter, Lee is a virtual certainty to surpass Tommy Davis as number 1 in career punting yards for the 49ers. At only 26 (with his birthday the day before mine), Lee is in position to make quite a climb up the NFL's all-time punters chart, likely to crack the top 50 sometime in 2010. The downside to that number is that it has come in large part because the 49ers have been a losing team his entire career. At the same time, he's shown an ability to boom some amazing punts in his time. I know everybody remembers that 82-yard monster against the Patriots. The total yards can come down, just keep up the average: he currently ranks 12th in NFL history for yards per punt.
Given the nature of these two positions for the 49ers, this really is more of a celebration of Lee and Nedney, as opposed to an analytical breakdown. They are two guys we are fortunate to have as 49ers. Nedney is signed through 2011 and Lee is signed through 2012. Lee signed a 6-year deal as a restricted free agent and as with any position, salaries have risen around him. Apparently, his people are looking for a new deal. Gotta love when punters have people. Shane Lechler signed a deal averaging $4 million per year. I'm a big fan of Andy Lee, but I'd imagine we won't see him getting $4 million a year anytime soon.