The San Francisco 49ers had some inconsistencies in their special teams work on Sunday against the Green Bay Packers. Special teams coach Thomas McGaughey broke them down,specifically to Bradley Pinion and Jarryd Hayne. Pinion's punts remain inconsistent, with some serious bombs, and some ugly ducks.
On the other side, Hayne is still learning certain aspects of the return game. We saw L.J. McCray run into him on a return. The ball was fumbled but the 49ers recovered. That was an issue where Hayne needed to get the fair catch up a little quicker. Hayne also seemed to get hosed by the refs on a fair catch interference. The 49ers.com folks mic'd him up for the game, and we get to hear him say, "I may be from Australia, but I know the rules." The mic'd up is really fascinating. Give it a watch here.
You talked about you wanted consistency from your punter and he was wildly inconsistent. He had some great punts and some bad punts. What was going on there and is this just again part of the rookie growing pains?
"Same stuff. You know it's, you get in that environment trying to do too much. You make a mistake and then the next time you come back and you try to make up for the mistake as opposed to just being the same guy every time. Trying to be consistent and that's, again, growing pains with rookies. If you feel like you've got to make a play, you want to flip the field, trying to hit a big ball and for [P] Bradley [Pinion], less is more. I think that's something that he's starting to understand the further we get along in the process."
Is that why you see some of those bad punts come when he's trying to kick it too far?
"Yeah, he's trying too hard. He's trying to, he's 6-5, he's 230 pounds, all he has to do is make contact with the ball, the ball is going to take off. But, in their mind, in a rookie's mind, in a punter's mind they are trying to ‘argh, I've got to guerilla the thing.' And, you really don't have to. Just make good, solid contact and consistent contact."
Giants Stadium used to be known for the winds and everything else. What are the characteristics of this stadium? Are there any difficulties for kickers or punters?
"No, it's not like the old stadium. It's built up more. It used to be down in the bowl a little bit, the old one. But, this is, it's a more consistent wind pattern in that stadium. It's not violent and then it's, at night it kind of calms down at night. Unless something's blowing in, we don't foresee any wild winds."
What's it say about RB Jarryd Hayne at this early point that it seemed like the Green Bay Packers were really trying to kick away from him?
"I don't know if that was quite the case. I know the punter struggled a little bit and had been struggling. Jarryd's a typical young player and he's going to make some mistakes. He's going to make some plays because he's a talented guy. But, you've got to take the good with the bad."
On the punt return where S L.J. McCray collided with him, how do you make that play better so that that doesn't happen?
"Just got to make a decision earlier. You can't wait that late to throw a fair catch up in traffic like that. And again, that comes with time and experience. It's kind of hard to simulate in practice."
So, that was, part of the guys assigned to block the gunners, are they supposed to look back to see if he's fair catching?
"No. They are listening for a signal or a sign, listening for a word from the returner, and once he hears that then he'll peel off. But, his job is to block. His job's not to watch the ball, because he'll never be able to get his block."
So, the return man signals and also yells something?
Fair catch? Is that what he yells? Don't run into me?
"Something like that, indicates fair catch."
Does Jarryd, even though he's a veteran professional athlete, does he still fall into some of the rookie traps that Bradley does too, just trying to do too much?
"Absolutely. The game is two totally different games. They might be, the skill set might be similar, but it's two totally different games, two totally different strategies. They are worlds apart, literally. But, every situation is a learning situation. It's a new situation for Jarryd, because he's never played football before. It's just one thing we've got to, as we move forward, we've just got to keep learning from it."
League-wide there's been an unusually large number of place kickers who have struggled, even with makeable field goals. Do you think the revised extra point rule maybe has got in their heads a little bit or do you think it's just coincidental?
"I think it's cyclical. This is not the first time this has happened. I think 2013, one of those years, it was kind of the same deal and '14 was kind of. So, there's one of these weekends every year, I think, where kickers don't have great days. But, that's just part of it. I think the extra point thing is good for the game. I think it gives it a little bit more excitement. I think the field goal kicking as a whole has been a lot better as it's gone over the years because of the snap, hold and kick, and those guys being able to work together exclusively during practice, as opposed to in the ‘80s and the ‘90s. But, I think that's kind of just one of those deals that just kind of happens every once in a while."