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49ers Forecast A New and Improved Special Teams Unit in 2022

Plenty of new faces have entered the 49ers facility ahead of the 2022 season, including special teams coordinator Brian Schneider.

Schneider returns to coaching in the NFL after working as the special teams coordinator of the Seattle Seahawks from 2010-20. During that span, Seattle's special teams units ranked first in the NFL in takeaways (26), second in blocked kicks (24) and fifth in touchdowns scored (14).

In 2021, Schneider stepped away from coaching to focus more attention on his family life. In his eyes, it's made him an even greater coach.

"There's no doubt in my mind that I'm the best I've ever been," Schneider said. "I've always loved this job so much and I love being around the players and coaches. To have this organization, the type of people that are here, it just reinforces that."

In his time away from the hectic pro-football itinerary, Schneider had the opportunity to watch his youngest son, Joby, play varsity football every weekend for Bellevue High School, see his son, Jace, coach football for the Montana Grizzlies, spend time with his daughter, Jaden, in San Diego and his other son, Joel, in Colorado.

Removing himself from the day-to-day grind of being an NFL coach, Schneider gained a new perspective on the game from the outside looking in.

"I stayed away and looked at the whole game and the whole experience from a distance," Schneider said. "It was a really cool experience that I just needed to go through at the time."

San Francisco's newest special teams coordinator has implemented what he's learned from his time away in his coaching techniques and getting to know the team.

"I try to really press into the players that 'every drill we do is going to make you a better football player, whatever position you're in,'" Schneider said. "That's why we have everyone drilling, because I don't know who's going to make the team, but I want to prepare everyone to have the best chance."

"I like his style," fullback Kyle Juszczyk added. "(Schneider) is very up-tempo, positive and aggressive. I think that's going to carry over to our special teams unit this year. We're going to be much more aggressive, we're going to be attacking more and really bringing it to other teams."

This offseason, the 49ers put a big emphasis on building their special teams personnel. Bringing in core special teams players during free agency such as linebacker Oren Burks, wide receiver Ray-Ray McCloud III and safety George Odum, the group has undergone a significant revival.

McCloud led the NFL in punt return yards (367) while also adding 35 kickoff returns for 776 yards in 2021. Burks recorded the second-most tackles (10) on special teams with the Packers last season and played at least 75 percent of the team's special teams snaps each season of his career. Odum notched the third-most special teams tackles in the league (35) since entering the NFL in 2018 and was named a first-team All-Pro special-team selection in 2020. Each add high-caliber experience to San Francisco's refreshed special teams unit.

"I'm really fired up. When you look at those guys that we brought in, I think they're even better than I originally thought on tape, which is awesome," Schneider said. "There's no question why they have the reputation they have."