Today, the San Francisco 49ers will take on the Dallas Cowboys in the 2014-15 season opener, which means it's about time I start to panic and overreact about special teams. It's a time-honored tradition here at Niners Nation though I'm starting to think it might be becoming a thing of the past. I'm starting to realize that, no matter what this current regime does that I happen to think is a mistake when it comes to special teams ... it always turns out alright.
That's probably as solid an endorsement as any for special teams coordinator Brad Seely. I don't think that the players that end up getting released are just a product of the system or anything like that -- they generally wind up going to other teams, where they excel and become leaders -- just that the 49ers know what they like to do and know what they're after when it comes to special teamers.
Right now, two of the biggest qualifiers are simple: young and cheap. Guys like Chris Borland and L.J. McCray are much cheaper than guys like C.J. Spillman and Blake Costanzo. They also happen to be very similar players, and they both showed enough in the preseason to convince the 49ers that they could part with someone like Spillman, a move that obviously bugged me when it happened.
So what can we expect out of San Francisco's special teams on Sunday?
Honestly, I expect more of the same. Andy Lee punts the ball with plenty of hangtime, and instead of Spillman being the first guy down there, I expect it will be Borland. From a scheme and gameplan perspective, the 49ers will probably operate in much the same way they did last year. There's not a lot to talk about on that front.
In other words, the two real topics of conversation are these: what can we expect from the Cowboys, and how confident are you that the 49ers will absorb yet another special teams talent dump and shrug it off like it was nothing?
The answer to the first one is pretty simple: the Cowboys have had a lackluster special teams unit from a return and a coverage standpoint. If San Francisco is able to provide a fraction of its special teams ability from previous seasons, it won't be much of a contest in that vein. The second question is something I'd be interested in hearing some answers on from you, the readers.