clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

49ers ST coach discusses Reggie Bush as 49ers punter returner, Bradley Pinion work

New, comments

49ers special teams coach Thomas McGaughey met with the media Wednesday, and discussed preparations for Sunday's game against the St. Louis Rams. We've got a full transcript. You can also listen to audio here, and view video here.

Just your thoughts on what the Rams offer you challenge-wise?

"Very good specialist group. They're very talented. Start with [St. Louis Rams P] Johnny Hekker, super athletic punter, has a big leg, he's getting better every year. You look at [St. Louis Rams K Greg Zuerlein] Legatron, Zuerlein, big leg. He had two 63, 64-yard attempts and the ball's almost at the top of the goal post as it's going past the goal post. Big time kickoff leg. You look at their returners, [St. Louis Rams RB Benny] Cunningham is quick, elusive, gets vertical and makes people miss, he's strong. And obviously, [St. Louis Rams WR] Tavon [Austin] is just a special talent and is probably the best punt returner in the league right now. Everything you'd want in a returner, quickness, speed, agility, toughness, and homerun hitting abilities. So, I think he's as good as they get. He reminds me a lot of [former NFL WR] Dante Hall when you watch him and that's scary in itself. But, they are very talented personnel-wise. The group is solid. They do a great job of covering kicks. They are built for speed playing in that dome. They play hard."

You were able to put RB Reggie Bush back there last game for the first time he'd return punts in I think five years. Are you comfortable with sticking him in that role or is this an evolving position?

"I feel very comfortable with him. As long as Reggie feels comfortable, I feel comfortable and he feels really comfortable doing it. We've just got to do a better job of sustaining our blocks and giving him a little room to work. But, yeah, I feel real comfortable with him."

How would you assess how P Bradley Pinion is doing right now and could being in a dome this week kind of give him a little bit of a boost, for lack of a better word?

"I think Bradley is doing well. He's a rookie. I didn't expect him to come in here and make the Pro Bowl his first year. But, he's going through his growing pains. He's growing through it. He's doing a good job of coming in and being diligent every day. He works hard at it. Some of the punts that we've had, we can't have some of those punts. He knows that, he understands it and he's working on that. Guys are doing a good job of covering, but as far as his punts are concerned, he's getting better every week, I think. He's learned from his mistakes. His kickoffs are really good, obviously. The kid has a super strong leg and that's kind of why, well it's not kind of, but that's why we drafted him. We knew he had a super strong leg and he's done a good job that way. So, I'm satisfied with him. I think he's going to get better week after week. I don't see him doing anything but getting better moving forward."

What should a punter's percentage be on the times where he's trying to get a nice spiral and get that thing to turn over to actually be able to accomplish that?

"I don't know if there is a percentage per se. Obviously you would like to have 100-percent percentage, but he's just got to work on being more consistent with his ball striking. I think that's something that he's working on. We're working on that all the time. He knows what he needs to do to get better. The ball striking part is something, consistent ball striking, is something that we need to get better at."

With their guy, obviously a background throwing the ball and he's done that in the past. Is that something this week you've spent a little time on to just have your bases covered incase Hekker wants to surprise you guys?

"Absolutely. It won't be surprise. He's done it, like you said, a ton of times in the past and he's very good at. If you watch the tape, he's a talented guy. He can run, and it's not just like a typical throw by the punter and you hope it gets there. They're throwing stop routes, they're throwing balls in the flat, they are doing a bunch of different stuff with him and he's made a play on the run. A guy came, they ran at him, rushed him at his feet, he jumps around a guy and makes a play. He looks like a quarterback. So, he's a talented guy and you've got to be on top of that stuff that they do. They do a lot of shifts and formation things of that nature with [St. Louis Rams special teams coordinator John] Coach Fassel. He does a really good job of getting those guys prepared and being able to create a clean pocket for Johnny to punt. So, it keeps you on your heels a little bit."