Prepping For Wacky, Wet Special Teams

November 20th, 2010

Surfing the many MSM outlets that cover the 49ers, Joe is not suprised how much buzz (almost excitement) there is about the Bucs-Niners game becoming an old fashioned soggy Candlestick mess Sunday.

Having lived out there, Joe knows the locals embrace the November through February rainy season and believe 50 degrees and rainy and muddy is glorious football weather.

But the Bucs might get lucky.

While it’s supposed rain in San Francisco tonight into the wee hours, the kickoff forecast, per, has now changed to only a 30 percent chance of rain during the game. The temperature is supposed to 53 degrees with a 14 mph wind at kickoff.

Matthew Barrows, of the Sacramento Bee, lays out some challenges of kicking in messy weather and how the Bucs and Niners play tight games that come down to kicking.

The 49ers have played five games this season that were decided by three or fewer points, and the Buccaneers four. Sunday’s forecast, meanwhile, calls for a 70 percent chance of showers.

Punter Andy Lee, who will serve as Andrus’ holder, said blustery Candlestick Park is one of the trickiest venues in the league, especially for a young kicker. But he said a rainy day can be beneficial because it usually means it’s not as windy.

“Later in the year, things aren’t quite as bad as early,” Lee said. “Now watch, me saying this it will be horrible this weekend.”

Said Andrus: “I played over in NFL Europe, so I’ve been a part of some pretty disastrous kicking conditions.”

Joe knows the Bucs’ punter and kicker are short on experience, especially in rough conditions. Joe hopes/prays that’s not a factor.

As for the return game, Joe perked up when he read in the Bee that Niners head coach Mike Singletary likes to keep things ultra conservative on runbacks and is not a fan of taking chances in that phase of the game even with dangerous Tedd Ginn, Jr. returning all punts and kicks.

The 49ers rank 21st in the league in kick-return average – 21.6 yards – and have two returns of 40 or more yards. They rank 22nd in punt returns with a 7.8-yard average.

When the season began, the 49ers intended to use sixth-round pick Kyle Williams on punt returns and Ted Ginn Jr. on kickoffs. Williams, however, has been banged up since the preseason, and the 49ers have resigned themselves to having Ginn do both.

He’s been sure-handed at the position, but he certainly hasn’t been explosive like he was in Miami where he ran two kickoffs back for touchdowns in 2009. Ginn fair-caught all five punts Sunday against St. Louis.

Writing about weather and stats means Joe is gnawing his arm off on a Saturday in anticipation of this Bucs-Niners game.

2 Responses to “Prepping For Wacky, Wet Special Teams”

  1. Hunter Says:

    If it rains, it actually might benefit us, since Troy Smith pretty much only excels out of the pocket. But that would also mean they would run the ball more….so I think it won’t matter much, if it does rain.

  2. Jameson Says:

    Let’s not forget that Shane Andrus is kicking for them, since Joe Nedney is out with an injury. The same Shane Andrus we waived last season in favor of Connor Barth. So I think we might be okay.