Inside, outside, 3-4 or 4-3,
The 6-foot-2, 250-pound linebacker signed a two-year contract with the 49ers this offseason expecting to contribute on special teams and as a reserve inside linebacker.
While special teams has continued to be one of the calling cards of the six-year veteran, he hasn’t been lining up as an inside linebacker.
Instead, Skuta joined the first-team defense as an outside linebacker, something that initially caught him by surprise. With
“I thought inside would be more of the positon for me, but I’ve played some outside in the past with Cincinnati,” Skuta said.
The Bengals ran a 4-3 defense, so the role with the 49ers hasn’t been nearly the same. Skuta, however, has no problem with learning a new spot on defense. Versatility has never been a problem for the special teams standout.
“I enjoy it,” Skuta said of his outside linebacker responsibilities. “I’m picking it up pretty good I think.”
Skuta has also lined up as a fullback during his time with the Bengals. Being asked to play outside linebacker really isn’t a shock at this point of his career.
“I’ve done all kinds of stuff,” Skuta said. “This is another addition to that.”
While Skuta learns the nuances of the outside linebacker position, he’s brushing up on his special teams coverage techniques under respected coordinator Brad Seely. Skuta joined the 49ers with quite the reputation for covering kicks. He has totaled 56 special teams tackles in 56 games.
Skuta’s assimilation into San Francisco’s system has been a positive experience so far.
The physical special teams player also can’t help but notice the veteran talent signed by the 49ers this offseason. Players like
“The guys they’ve been bringing in here,” Skuta began, “I’m impressed with their dedication to that part of the game. I just feel like they really want to be great at it here and we’ve got the guys to do it. We’ve got the coaches to do it, so I’m excited for that.”
In particular, Skuta is eager to play alongside Ventrone after being AFC North opponents for the past five seasons.
If football fans don’t know about Ventrone, Skuta is happy to give them insight on the special teams dynamo.
“They should know about him because he’s a beast out there,” Skuta said. “I played against him twice a year when I was with Cincinnati and he was in Cleveland and I knew where he was every time we were on the field. He was their guy. He’s a great player. I definitely knew who he was and I think the fans should know about him, too.”
Before Skuta and Ventrone can get back to work as members of San Francisco’s kick-off and punt teams, they’ll enjoy the month-long break before training camp begins.
For Skuta, pre-camp training will take place in his home state of Michigan.
The veteran linebacker already has his month of July perfectly planned.
“Train all day for four hours and then go out on the boat in Michigan, that’s not too bad, is it?”
Skuta’s role on the 49ers will be one to watch when training camp begins in late July. For now, the ability to play both inside and outside bodes well for his future with a new team.