clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

JaCorey Shepherd showed promise as 49ers kick returner

It’s something positive from Sunday!

The San Francisco 49ers have not shown a lot to get excited about this season, but Sunday we saw something that at least provides something to build on in Week 10. And no, I’m not talking about the offense. The offense did some good work, but it came against a bad defense. It is certainly worth seeing how they carry over to the Cardinals game, but I think we’ve seen this movie a few times already.

No, I’m talking about kick returner JaCorey Shepherd. The 49ers signed Shepherd on October 10 when they placed Chris Davis on injured reserve. Shepherd is listed as a cornerback, but through three games has played exclusively on special teams. He had his first three returns on Sunday against the New Orleans Saints, and he showed some play-making ability. Shepherd averaged 34.7 yards per return. His long was 36 yards, so it was not a big one offset by two small returns.

The return game has lost a lot of its luster lately with two notable changes. The kickoff was moved up five yards in 2011, and touchbacks now bring the offense out to the 25-yard line instead of the 20. This has encouraged returners to take a knee on kickoffs to the end zone. It has also encouraged kickers to kick the ball higher and just short of the end zone, resulting in fewer significant kick returns.

It is kind of fitting that the most significant positive this season could come in an area that is losing its emphasis! But even still, Shepherd provided some kind of spark that made one aspect of this team a little more enjoyable to watch. I would imagine his performance against the Saints will get him the kickoff returner role this week against the Arizona Cardinals.