Each week 49ers.com will feature a column dedicated to special teams and those who play on them. These teamers will share their breakdowns of the upcoming opponent and give you some insight on some aspects of special teams you might not be too familiar with. In the thirteenth Teams Talk installment of the 2009 season, linebacker Scott McKillop shares his thoughts on the 49ers Monday Night Football matchup against the Arizona Cardinals.
It was nice that we had a prime-time game a few weeks back against Chicago, playing at night in a spotlight game was a good experience. During night games the field can become a little slicker. Knowing that, it'll be important during warm-ups to get out there and see what the field is like. Testing the field in pregame is a good way to get feel for your footing.
We played Arizona in the first game of the season and it seems like such a long time ago. They were coming off a good season last year and we wanted to have an excellent performance in the season-opener. They had a lot of expectations and many people weren't expecting a lot from us, which helped us out. It was a great game. It wasn't really decided until the end. Both teams know each other. It's going to be a tough game this time around.
It was my first NFL game and I look back at some of the stuff that I was doing and ask myself, "How was I doing that?" But as the season goes along, you become sharp and you're even more fundamental than you were at that point of the season.
A big key in this game for us is to stop Arizona's kick return man, LaRod Stephens-Howling.
He was a teammate of mine at Pitt, so I know what it's like to try to bring him down in the open field. He's low to the ground and extremely quick. A few weeks back he took one back against Tennessee.
The Cardinals also have Steve Breaston, who is from the Pittsburgh area as well. He's dangerous as a punt returner and when you look at it, those two are two electrifying returners. The important thing is that you have to go out there and do your job and not try to do everyone else's.
Arizona also has two solid guys in punter Ben Graham and kicker Neil Rackers. They've been in the NFL for a long time, they know what to do. They've very versatile and they're proven vets. They're capable of doing anything so you just have to be on your best game every play and hopefully execute to your ability.
As far as our unit, I think we're still waiting for that one big play on the return game, when we'll bust out and hopefully it will be this week.