It's no secret that Joe Nedney versus a robot built for kicking equates to a Joe Nedney win ten times out of ten. That's just how things work. In the ongoing war with man versus machine, it's not often that man gets a win, but Nedney has been a dependable source of robot-beating awesomeness for years now. Unfortunately, questions about his ability and durability on the football field are beginning to surface, and where they already have surfaced, they began to pick up speed last year.
Nedney has been pretty darn dependable for the 49ers since signing with the team in 2005. He's never went below an 81% field goal percentage, and three of his seasons in San Francisco were 85% and above. His accuracy is not an issue, or at least it hasn't been to this point. He's missed the occasional important kick, but I believe he made a lot more of them in that time frame.
I've never been impressed with his kickoffs, but at the very least, he's been consistent in that regard. He's not a big touchback kind of guy, and he's not even an "inside the five-yard line" kind of guy. But his kicks have decent hang-time to them at the very least, and the coverage units aren't routinely left out to dry.
Around the league, you see teams struggle with their kickers, you see players go out there and routinely miss field goals, and I start to feel a little selfish about my stance on Nedney. I want a guy to come in and handle kickoffs, but I won't despair if we don't get that. The biggest issue is Nedney's health, as the 49ers had to bring in Jeff Reed to finish out the 2010 season. Reed was solid, but the team has indicated that Nedney is still probably that guy, or at least, insiders have.
I still wouldn't be adverse to a kickoff specialist, but let's get to confidence levels. You all know what a '10' implies. You are 100% confident that Nedney will handle all duties as the kicker admirably. Let's go with '6' being somewhere around serviceable, but with large question marks. Anything below that is varying degrees of "he's just not that good at this point, or ever."