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Phil Dawson, Bradley Pinion will have plenty to work on the next few months

The San Francisco 49ers made a change at the punter position this year, which also means the team will be using a new holder for extra points and field goals. We break down what it means.

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

The San Francisco 49ers surprised a lot of us last month when they drafted punter Bradley Pinion. In hindsight, it is not exactly shocking that the team might look to move on from Andy Lee's salary. It still was surprising given his tenure with the team, but not shocking.

The 49ers traded Andy Lee earlier this month, confirming that Pinion will indeed be the team's punter in 2015. While that is important information, it also means a change at another position. During his time with the 49ers, Lee served as the holder for each 49ers kicker. Lee and one-time long-snapper Brian Jennings spent a significant amount of time together working on the snap and hold. The team had turnover at the kicker position, but the group generally seemed to mesh well over the years.

Now, the 49ers will have turnover at the holder position for the first time in a long time. Kyle Nelson will remain the long snapper, and Phil Dawson will remain the kicker, but the middle man will be changing. The group has done plenty of work during the offseason workout program, and they will have plenty more time during training camp and the preseason. As with any technique, it comes down in part to building that muscle memory. Thankfully, special teams players have plenty of time to work on building that muscle memory.

One thing I have thought about in light of this switch is why the team does not consider using Blaine Gabbert as their holder. My guess is the backup quarterback is a position that sees more transition. Rather than have the kicker and long-snapper working with a new holder fairly frequently, using a player you expect to be around for a while might allow for more consistency.

One drawback to having the punter act as your holder is when things break down, or you want to run a fake on a field goal, your options are a bit more limited. You can run the occasional pass play with a punter holder, but it won't be frequent, and odds are it won't be pretty. But, I suppose the odds of needing that are fairly low compared to the desire for some consistency over multiple years at the position.

Whatever the case, the special teams unit will be busier than expected this offseason thanks to the change at the holder position. There should be enough time to get everybody on the same page, but it will be something to track in the preseason, and well into the regular season.