The 49ers haven’t been getting the same kind of kick out of their special teams as they did all of last season, when the unit was uniformly excellent from start to finish.
But at least one special-teams performer, P Andy Lee, has picked right up where he left off last season, which ended with him being named the co-recipient of PFW’s Golden Toe Award, the league’s most prestigious kicking honor, along with teammate David Akers.
“He’s always going to be good,” one team insider said of Lee, PFW’s Midseason All-Pro punter. “He’s so locked in. He does it all — booming punts, perfectly placed directional punts inside the 20, making punts at crucial times. He won the game in Seattle with his 60-yarder (66 yards to be exact) near the end. I can think of only one bad punt from him this year.”
As for Akers, who had one of the all-time great seasons for a placekicker last season (league-record 44 field goals and 166 points), he has come down to earth this season (14-of-19 on FG attempts), although his league record-tying 63-yard cannon shot against the Packers in Week One showed that he still has the same surprising leg strength that he steadily displayed last season (7-of-9 from 50 yards and beyond), despite the fact he turned 37 last December.
“I just think last year he was so remarkable. I would have to say 90 percent of his kicks were dead perfect, right down the middle,” the insider said. “I don’t think a kicker can do what he did from year to year. He was so good, he makes what he’s doing this year look stark in comparison. But he still has a strong leg, he’s real smart and he does a very good job managing his body, limiting his kicks during the week.
“I guarantee 90 percent of the teams in the league would love to have him.”