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Kassim Osgood Sparks 49ers Special Teams

Posted Oct 4, 2013

Kassim Osgood has provided a lift to the San Francisco 49ers special teams units.

Kassim Osgood has made three Pro Bowls as a special teams selection for a reason.

The 11-year veteran wide receiver is arguably one of the best in the business when it comes to covering kicks.

“His style, I just love it,” teammate Anthony Dixon said of Osgood. “He’s someone I’m definitely feeding off him right now.”

The 49ers re-signed Osgood to replace injured rookie linebacker Nick Moody, who suffered a broken hand after San Francisco’s win on Kickoff Weekend.

Osgood has become a key member of the 49ers much improved cover units.

"Kassim Osgood has been a fabulous contributor in this past game and since he’s been with us these past three games," Jim Harbaugh said earlier in the week.

Although it’s a small sample size in just four games, San Francisco ranks No. 8 and No. 12 in the NFL in kick and punt return averages, respectively. The 49ers allow 19.7 yards per kick return and 7.6 yards per punt return.

Osgood believes it all comes down to chemistry. Right now, the 49ers have a strong mix of experienced and athletic contributors on the coverage units.

“You start to gel and you’re able to game plan better,” the veteran receiver said. “You know not to overdo your job because you know the other guy will be where he’s supposed to be. You can rely on the guy next to you.

“It makes it easier to accomplish what you can accomplish.”


The 49ers ranked 31st in the NFL last season in kick return average and allowed a 108-yard kick return for a touchdown in Super Bowl XLII. To address those concerns, the team brought in veterans like Osgood and safety Bubba Ventrone to boost the coverage units.

Special teams contributors like Dixon appreciated the value the 49ers put on helping the special teams return to being among the best in the NFL.

“They’ve brought more knowledge because they’ve been doing it for so long, especially K.O.,” Dixon said. “Our goal is to finish as the best unit.”

Dixon, a fourth-year running back, has made special teams a priority in his career. He also sees other newcomers to the roster taking on the responsibility of covering kick-offs and punts.

Rookie first-round pick Eric Reid, a member of the punt coverage team, comes to mind.

“He’s getting in the mix,” Dixon said, before noting C.J. Spillman is usually the first one to be down the field.

San Francisco added even more speed to the coverage units by calling up undrafted rookie cornerback Darryl Morris from the practice squad.

Harbaugh singled out the rookie out of Texas State and said he performed well in his NFL debut last week against the St. Louis Rams.

It was most evident when the 49ers attempted a rarely seen free kick from 71 yards out.

Harbaugh said the 49ers were planning the scenario to close out the first half and used timeouts to try to set up a career-long kick for Phil Dawson, who was unable to connect on the kick from San Francisco's own territory.

“Phil gave it a good run,” Harbaugh said. “And had that been a little bit more on-line maybe it would have had a shot. But he gave it a good run.

“Darryl Morris did a real nice job covering on the play, getting in his first action as a pro. Had a few other nice plays where he was the gunner on the punt and it really showed his speed. And that particular play was a one-on-one tackle in space, so appreciate that effort by him on that play. And also Phil.”

Osgood noted San Francisco’s special teams will be tested once again with the Houston Texans coming to town. Osgood is familiar with the AFC South opponent from his two-year run with the Jacksonville Jaguars.

“They’re big dudes and they’re strong, so you have to be physical,” Osgood said. “They’re going to hit you in the mouth if you’re not ready, they have speed on their special teams, too.

“It’ll be a good challenge for us.”

Texans wide receiver Keshawn Martin is third in the NFL, averaging 27.3 yards per kick return. Martin ranks 25th in the league, averaging 4.4 yards per punt return.


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