San Francisco 49ers: Breaking Down Their Depth at Special Teams


Jan 22, 2012; San Francisco, CA, USA; San Francisco 49ers special teams players line up to kick off the second half of the 2011 NFC Championship game against the New York Giants at Candlestick Park. Mandatory Credit: Jason O. Watson-USA TODAY Sports

Who is Tony Montana?

The San Francisco 49ers special teams unit played lights out in 2011-2012 and earned the nickname of “The Tony Montana Squad”.  However, with the departure of special teams ace and Pro Bowl alternate Blake Costanzo, the production of the special teams unit took a dip last season.

This past offseason, the 49ers signed gunner Kassim Osgood, a three-time Pro Bowl selection. Osgood’s veteran experience will help offset the void left by Delanie Walker as a gunner.  Special teams players such as CB Tremaine Brock, RB Anthony Dixon, FB Bruce Miller, and S C.J. Spillman will continue to bring their best to the unit.

Osgood was the biggest special teams addition for the 49ers, but don’t sleep on other offseason signings such as S Craig Dahl and S Raymond Ventrone.

Dahl has mainly played defense in his career, but if rookie S Eric Reid wins the starting job on defense, look for Dahl to compete on special teams.  Also, the 49ers drafted LB Nick Moody for his potential as a special teams player.

In terms of punt returns, Ted Ginn Jr. signed with the Carolina Panthers.  Kyle Williams has some experience as punt returner, however, he is coming off an ACL injury.  The 49ers can also turn to youth and speed in A.J. Jenkins, Ricardo Lockette, or Quinton Patton.

For kickoff returns, LaMichael James looks to improve on his successful, but limited, rookie campaign.  James possesses the skills to be a great kickoff returner due to his combination of size, strength, and smarts of navigating the field.

The 49ers addressed the David Akers fiasco by signing veteran kicker Phil Dawson.  Dawson owns a career-field-goals-made-percentage of 84%, and he made 94% of his attempts in 2012 (compared to Akers’ 69%).

Finally, is it really necessary to talk about the punter?  P Andy Lee and his counterpart LS Brian Jennings are the best in the business, period.  Lee and Jennings, both Pro Bowl selections, are so good at what they do, the 49ers should sign their sons and grandsons to come.

The 2013 “Tony Montana Squad” will have some new faces, but they will look to rebound from a down year in 2012 and continue their ball lurking abilities.

FYI: Tony Montana was the main character in Scarface and the last name “Montana” is a tribute to Joe Montana.