A sometimes overlooked aspect of the game is special teams, but not this season, and not on 49ers.com. Each week, we'll feature Teams Talk, 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 this week's column, rookie safety Dashon Goldson, who led the 49ers last week with four tackles on teams is our featured special teams player.
When they first told me I was going to be active for a game and play mostly special teams, I was happy just to get back on that field. They had asked me when I got here if I had a problem with playing special teams and I said I didn't have a problem doing anything. I know that special teams is where a lot of young guys first make their name in this league because it's a way to get on the field and show what you can do.
Our special teams coach Al Everest always tells us one thing over and over and that's, "Be somebody!" That's what I try to do every time I go out there on special teams. I try to be somebody. I haven't gotten on the field much on defense with all the talent we have in the secondary, but I know special teams is a way for me to make a name for myself.
This team takes a lot of pride in the way our special teams units have played this year. You start the game with special teams, so it's up to us to set the tone for the game. Everybody takes that seriously and that shows up in the stats. The teams units were already playing exceptionally well by the time I got a chance to get out there, so I just wanted to add to that and bring my athletic ability, especially to the punt team.
When I was in college I played a lot of special teams, especially when I was an underclassman, and I usually played the wing position like I do now on our punt team. I think I've gotten a lot better at my technique though because we really break it down now which helps.
To be exact, I'm the left wing on the punt team so I line up behind the left tackle. They call that position "the king of the edge" because I'm supposed to make sure that nobody comes off the edge and blocks the punt. If they don't block me, I have a free release to get down the field and try to get after the return man.
Andy Lee has been playing great and that helps us out a lot. With his hang time, it gives us an opportunity to get down the field and make plays, and we definitely want to help out his punt average by getting down there and making a guy fair catch the ball if nothing else.
I was able to get down there last week against Atlanta and tackle their return man after he made an invalid fair catch signal, but a lot of things went into that play. In the previous week, the Saints hadn't been blocking me and that's basically a slap in the face because that shows that they don't think I can make the play. The Falcons tried to do the same thing and so I just wanted to get down the field and make the play. As soon as I saw it was just me and him I started to pick up speed and head right toward him. I didn't even see the wave actually. I knew there wasn't any fair catch signaled so I just zeroed in and went for the hit.
Making a play like that is all about focus. You just have to go down there and lock in. Since I was coming down on the left side, I just zeroed in on his hip. I knew I had to go down there and make that play and that's what I did.
Hopefully I can make some more plays this week in Seattle. I didn't play against Seattle when we played them at home this year, but when I'm not playing, I'm always taking notes. So, I've learned a lot about them just by watching film and watching our last game against them.
From watching their punter, Ryan Plackemeier, I think he's more of a directional kicker. He's going to put it to the near side most of the time, but he will try to change it up to keep you on your toes.
Nate Burleson is doing very well returning both punts and kickoffs. He had a pretty long return against us earlier this season that went for about 20 yards, and then last week he took one to the house. He's a shifty guy and you have to get him on the ground. He usually returns the ball up the middle as opposed to other speedy guys who try to get to the outside. He usually doesn't try to get to the perimeter so we have to do a very good job of tackling him when he comes up the middle.
I think it will be a good challenge for us, but as a special teams unit we are confident that we can go out there and compete with anyone.