The San Francisco 49ers are set for training camp to begin at the end of the month. But before the team can defend its NFC West division crown this upcoming season, let’s take a look at the depth of each position group on the roster as they prepare for camp. Specialists close our series out.
How much of an impact did the 49ers special teams units have in 2011? For one, the group picked up a theme song (Future’s “Tony Montana”), broke two major NFL records (most made field goals in a season and lowest single-season net punting average) and had three representatives named to the 2012 Pro Bowl (
RETURNERS: Andy Lee (ninth season), David Akers, (14th season, second in San Francisco), Brian Jennings (13th season). NEWCOMERS:
The 49ers brought in Nelson and Tavecchio to develop depth at their respective positions and to help split up the training camp reps at the specialist positions. However, the pair of understudies will likely gain valuable playing experience in the preseason. Nelson has also practiced with the tight ends this offseason, providing the 49ers with depth at multiple positions.
The combination of Lee’s booming right leg and the league’s top coverage unit resulted in the 49ers posting a 44.0 net punting average last season, the best single-season mark in league history.
“Sometimes it’s underestimated probably, to be honest with you. Andy is one of those guys that wins games for our football team. And it’s great to see guys that play all the games, play all 16, 17, 18 games and help our football team win games, get rewarded with a new contract. So, we’re all really excited and happy for Andy about that. And selfishly for ourselves we’re happy and excited that Andy Lee will be with us for the next six years.”
-Coach Jim Harbaugh on Andy Lee’s underpublicized talent.