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49ers special teams: Better, worse, or same in 2016?

A position by position look at the San Francisco 49ers’ roster, and whether the team is better, worse, or the same as the 2015 roster. Today, we close it out with the 49ers special teams.

The San Francisco 49ers face a lot of questions surrounding their roster in 2016, and it will take some time to figure out where this team stands. The team was fairly quiet in free agency, but did plenty of work in the 2016 NFL Draft. Additionally, they will welcome back some injured players, and look to further develop young talent from the past few drafts.

With that in mind, I thought we would take a look at each position, compare it to various points last year, and consider whether the unit is better, worse, or the same compared to last year. The table includes the current group of players, and then a list of players on the 90-man roster for the first preseason game, the players on the Week 1 53-man roster, and the players on the Week 17 53-man roster. The idea is to compare this year with last year across the board. The roster changes from August to December, so I’m including three separate markers just to provide an overall view of the position last year.

We started with the quarterbacks, running backs, wide receivers, tight ends, offensive line, defensive line, outside linebackers, inside linebackers, cornerbacks, and safeties. We close it out today with special teams.

Current 2015 preseason 2015 - Week 1 2015 - Week 17
Phil Dawson Phil Dawson Phil Dawson Phil Dawson
Bradley Pinion Bradley Pinion Bradley Pinion Bradley Pinion
Kyle Nelson Kyle Nelson Kyle Nelson Kyle Nelson
John Lunsford Corey Acosta

I only listed out the truly "specialists" in the table, but obviously special teams includes a lot more players. Here is a rundown of special teams snaps last season based on percentage participation

LB Nick Bellore: 85.9%
LB Shayne Skov: 76.2%
FB Bruce Miller: 70.6%
CB Dontae Johnson: 64.4%
CB Jimmie Ward: 51.6%
WR Quinton Patton: 50.0%
P Bradley Pinion: 44.2%
CB Kenneth Acker: 40.8%
S Jaquiski Tartt: 39.5%
OLB Eli Harold: 37.9%
RB Kendall Gaskins: 35.0%
S Eric Reid: 34.1%
LS Kyle Nelson: 31.4%
DT Tony Jerod-Eddie: 30.3%
S L.J. McCray: 30.0%
WR Bruce Ellington: 27.8%
DB Marcus Cromartie: 26.2%
DT Quinton Dial: 25.1%
TE Vance McDonald: 24.0%
DT Arik Armstead: 23.5%
CB Tramaine Brock: 20.6%
ILB Michael Wilhoite: 20.4%
TE Garrett Celek: 19.5%
DT Ian Williams: 18.2%
OLB Aaron Lynch: 13.7%
K Phil Dawson: 12.3%

We don’t really know which players will slot in where on special teams, although it is safe to say most of the rookies that make the roster will get in special teams work. This particular poll is not quite as clear cut. You can vote on the returning Dawson, Pinion, and Nelson, but feel free to consider the options that might fill some of the core special teamer roles we’re go