For the second year in a row, we'll feature Teams Talk, a 49ers.com column dedicated to special teams and those who play on them. This week, special teams representative, Delanie Walker, checks in to share details about the matchup against the New York Giants.
The Giants have two good kickers. John Carney has been doing the job this year because Lawrence Tynes has been injured. Carney is in his 20th season and he was on the Chargers back when the 49ers won our last Super Bowl so I'm sure he's a guy 49ers fans are somewhat familiar with.
Both Carney and Tynes have been clutch kickers, and have made some big kicks in big games. That's what put them in the Super Bowl last year. If it wasn't for Tynes' overtime field goal against the Packers, they wouldn't have even made it.
So we recognize what they've got and understand that whoever is going to be back there for them can win a game if the opportunity is there.
With that said, we have to get in there and try to disrupt that by getting pressure and getting a good push inside. Just like we did last week when Ray McDonald busted up the middle, blocked the David Akers' field goal attempt and Donald Strickland picked it up and took it 41 yards for a touchdown at the end of the first half.
I have a good feeling the Giants will be looking for us to do that again, so we'll have to try and mix it up and just out-execute them.
Jeff Feagles, the Giants punter, is in his 21st season in the NFL. He's a veteran and when he sleeps, he probably dreams of punting the ball inside the 10-yardline. They actually have a number of vets on their roster, which makes them a good team. Having two decades of experience like he and Carney have tends to pay off in crucial moments. Those guys don't make many mistakes in the kicking game because of those veterans.
As for the Giants coverage units, what sets them apart from most teams is that they like to use their starters, and their guys use both their speed and strength to make plays.
They are going to run hard down the field to cover because they know we have good returners. We almost broke a punt return for a score last week in the first quarter, when Allen Rossum returned the ball 45 yards and set us up in the red zone so I'm sure they will be looking to keep us in check.
One guy to look out for on special teams is number 57, linebacker, Chase Blackburn. He's a good special teams player. And they like to use guys like him, linebackers and mostly defensive backs mainly because those are the guys who make tackles all the time. They also use their starting fullback, Madison Hedgecock on a lot of their special teams units, and he's a strong player.
The Giants have a good return game to go along with their coverage units. Their punt returners are former 49ers first round pick, cornerback R.W. McQuarters and wide receiver Domenik Hixon.
They are really two different types of returners. McQuarters likes to run up the middle and Hixon likes to run outside. Knowing that, we have to do a good job of staying in our lanes and making the tackle when we get an opportunity to do so.
As for their kick returners, running back Ahmad Bradshaw has been doing most of the work. He's a strong dude for being only 5-foot-9 and we have to wrap him up. Any moment he can take it a long distance, so we're going to have to be ready to wrap up and really get to him. We have to destroy their wedge and get to him as fast as possible to control the field position.
That's the biggest key to this game.
I think field position is so important. It's big, because it puts the offense in a good spot to score and it keeps our defense from having to defend a shorter field. We want to put our offense and defense in position, so they can execute and make the necessary plays to help us win the game.