It’s the midway of the 2017 season, and Niners Live is assessing the performance of the Special Teams units in the first eight games of the season. While the offense and defense have had their struggles, the special team’s unit has been the most consistent facet of the team.
Punting/Kick-Off: The punt and kick-off coverage units have not allowed a touchdown return. Which is very encouraging. Punter Bradley Pinion ranks 10th overall, his average per punt is 44.9. He leads the league with punts downed within the 20-yard line with 19. Pinion also serves as the team’s kick-off specialist, of his 35 kickoffs, 29 were touchbacks. Pinion’s strong booming kicks have been a bright spot of the season.
Extra Point/Field Goal: Robbie Gould has been almost automatic this season. His blocked kick against the Philadelphia Eagles was his first since 2012. He has just one miss apart from that, registering 17 made kicks from 19 kicks, 90% with a long of 52. In extra points he has converted 91% of his attempts, 10-11. Gould is the leading the team in points scored with 61.
Punt/Kick Return: Punt Returner Trent Taylor has done a good job except for a crushing fumble on a return against the Dallas Cowboys. Trent muffed just one punt this season. He has 14 returns with an average of 11.2 yards with a long of 39. In the kick return game, Victor Bolden Jr., and Raheem Mostert have been the trusted agents. Bolden Jr. has 12 returns for 242 yards, 20.2 avg., and a long of 34. Mostert has 5 returns for 83 yards, 16.6 avg., with a long of 21.The returners have provided the offense with good field position. The next thing for them to do is take one to the house. This team will take points any way they can.
Review & Looking Ahead: Special Team’s coordinator Richard Hightower’s units play with discipline and tenacity. They recovered their only on-side kick attempt and contained returners. The kicker’s legs have been very valuable to the team and their efforts must not be overlooked. Trent Taylor must forget his blunder and get back to business, he is elusive in the open field and will take one to the house this season. Look for Bolden Jr. to get more touches in the punt return game; he possesses game-changing speed. Mostert will continue to get touches on special teams, he too has burners and is a threat to score. In the second half of the season, Pinion and Gould will continue their consistent play. The returners will have some big plays, but don’t be surprised if there is another fumble or muffed catch. The return coverage units may allow a touchdown by the end of the season, but Hightower will have them playing full throttle of every play and they will continue to contain big returns.
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All records, statistics, and accolades are courtesy of Pro-Football-Reference.com, Pro Football Focus, 49ers.com, ESPN.com, NFL.com unless otherwise indicated. Author Jimi Payne Staff Writer at Niners live. Content Creator, Editor, Sequoia Sims