Richard Hightower is in his 13th season in the NFL and third as the 49ers special teams coordinator. He returned to San Francisco in 2017 after previously serving as assistant special teams coach with the team in 2015.
From 2017-18, the 49ers kicking unit ranked first in the NFL in field goal percentage (96.0) and second with 72 made field goals (LAR – 74). In addition, San Francisco's punt coverage ranked second over that timespan, holding opponent punt returns to an average of 5.7 yards per return (Ind. – 4.3).
Under Hightower's tutelage in 2018, San Francisco's special teams units flourished. K Robbie Gould set the 49ers single-season franchise record for field goal percentage (97.1) as he connected on 33 of 34 field goal attempts and finished the season with 126 points. He also set the franchise record for most consecutive field goals made (33) and finished the season connecting on each of his final 23 attempts. Gould was named NFC Special Teams Player of the Month for December and was a two-time recipient of the NFC Special Teams Player of the Week Award (Week 2 & 15). Rookie WR Richie James Jr. was named All-NFC kick returner by the PFWA as he averaged 25.2 yards per kickoff return, which ranked seventh in the NFL. James Jr. also registered the team's first kickoff return for a touchdown (97 yards) since 2011.