With Ted Ginn Jr.’s 268 return yards against the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday propelling the 49ers to their first win of 2011, it should come as no surprise that the return specialist’s name was a popular topic inside the team’s locker room just one day after his career performance.
“Ted’s a stud,” head coach Jim Harbaugh said in his day after the game press conference. “There’s no doubt that he’s a heck of a football player and a great guy. I think nobody would be disputing that.”
Harbaugh spoke highly not just of Ginn, but of his entire special teams unit, including coordinator and 49ers assistant head coach Brad Seely.
“Phenomenal performance by Teddy and all the members of the special teams that contributed to that, including Brad Seely – tremendous job,” said Harbaugh, who went on to praise coverage players like linebacker Blake Costanzo and tight end Delanie Walker as well as specialists, punter Andy Lee and kicker David Akers.
There’s been a constant focus on special teams throughout his tenure as head coach. Harbaugh said the 49ers don’t rehearse special teams, but actually practice it. “We give it the importance that it deserves,” he said.
Because of the added attention to special teams, Ginn was able to break free for two important game-changing plays. His 102-yard kickoff return and 55-yard punt return all but guarantee the fifth-year wideout will be the NFC’s Special Teams Player of the Week. But Ginn’s strong day could not have taken place without the support of his teammates.
Take his 102-yard kickoff return for example. Without the edge-setting block by rookie safety Colin Jones, Ginn would not have made it down the Seahawks sideline untouched.
The lightning-fast returner’s presence in the return game was a game-time decision Harbaugh revealed. But ultimately, the 49ers wanted Ginn’s experience in the kick return game and the decision paid off.
Now the 49ers have to decide if Ginn will remain as the team’s sole return specialist which could potentially limit his role on offense.
“After yesterday’s performance you sure hate to take him off the field right now in those roles,” Harbaugh admitted. “He means a lot to us on the offensive side of the ball as well.”
More Monday Notes
Reggie Smith returned to action on Sunday after missing four preseason games due to a knee injury. Smith played primarily on special teams, but also saw time at safety along with Donte Whitner. “A lot of it is mental,” Smith said. “Getting out there and playing yesterday took a lot of doubt that I couldn’t go out there and do something. That was the first time out there really hitting since the injury. It was a confidence boost and I think I’ll be a lot better from here on out.”
Harbaugh took exception to the notion of the 49ers being conservative on third down, especially in the red zone. “That’s attacking in our mind. And there are things that we knew we would going into this game come out of it liking. And some other things going, well we don’t like that so much, and those things we’re going to have to work really hard to improve and the things we’re doing well, definitely, devote as much reps to those as we can and keep doing them.
The 49ers coach enjoyed his first win in the NFL, but said he wanted to see his team’s highlights on TV last night and didn’t see it. The perceived slight didn’t bother Harbaugh, but gave him more motivation for this week’s matchup against the visiting Dallas Cowboys.
“It just kind of documents what you know – what the perception is of our team around the league and around the country,” he said. “Some people can say that’s not fair, it isn’t right, but do something about it. And that’s our mindset. That’s our approach.”
Tags: Jim Harbaugh, Reggie Smith, Ted Ginn Jr.
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