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49ers bring in lefty punter to prepare returners for Panthers

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The 49ers have a pair of young returners to prepare for Sunday.

NFL: Carolina Panthers at Tampa Bay Buccaneers Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The San Francisco 49ers will be sending out new punt and kick returners on Sunday against the Carolina Panthers, and they’re going to extra lengths to get them ready. Former 49ers offseason punter Brock Miller was in the house this week, and according to Matt Maiocco, it was to help get Trent Taylor and Victor Bolden ready for Michael Palardy.

The 49ers signed Miller back in January, and released him in May to make room for the undrafted free agent signings. Bradley Pinion is installed as the punter, so it was extremely unlikely that Miller would supplant him for the role.

The 49ers are not the first team to bring in a lefty punter to work out their returners. I did a google search of “what's the difference between a left and right footed punter,” and there is way too much content on it. Bill Belichick has had left-footed punters throughout his career, but claims it is mostly a coincidence. Deadspin talked to a noted football writer about it, and someone did some statistical analysis on muffs related to left and righty punters.

It seems like it really is not a huge thing, but teams are going to do anything they think might give them even a little bit of an edge. The 49ers have two rookies likely to handle return duties this weekend, and while both have shown considerable confidence through the preseason, the regular season is a different beast. The field position battle is going to be critical, and if Taylor and/or Bolden can build on their strong special teams work in the preseason, it could put the 49ers in position to spring the upset against Carolina.