San Francisco 49ers fans are somewhat spoiled when it comes to special teams. It’s understandable though.
After all, it’s hard to notice and appreciate all the efforts of All-Pro, Pro Bowl punter Andy Lee when everything he does looks so routine.
Lee’s five-punt effort last week against Seattle, however, wasn’t overlooked by respected Sports Illustrated football writer Peter King, who listed Lee as his Week 7 Special Teams Player of the Week. King ranked San Francisco as his No. 5 overall team, too.
The nine-year veteran punter continues his stellar play with a 47.5 average on his 26 punts, including 14 inside the 20-yard line. Lee placed 28 punts inside the 20-yard line last season and is on pace to beat that mark this season.
According to King, Lee’s booming right leg blends perfectly with San Francisco’s roster.
“Jim Harbaugh knows the kind of team he has. It’s a field-position team. His passing game is not explosive, but his running game is very good, and his defense mostly suffocating,” King wrote in his weekly Monday Morning Quarterback column.
“On Thursday night, Lee, the superb punter for the Niners, played right into Harbaugh’s plans. He punted five times. He pinned the Seahawks back at their 4-, 33-, 14-, 9- and 6-yard lines. (Average post-punt drive start: 13-yard line.) Seattle had five punt-return yards all night. Niners 13, Seahawks 6.”
King also gave praise to the interior of the 49ers offensive line for their dominant running in the second half of the 49ers win.
“Left guard Mike Iupati, center Jonathan Goodwin, right guard Alex Boone. You want to see how to wear down a defensive front? Watch the three men on the Niners offensive line batter a very good Seattle front seven (and tackles Joe Staley and Antony Davis played well too) for 175 rushing yards on 32 clock-eating carries,” King Wrote.
“My favorite run of the Thursday night win over the Seahawks: Early in the fourth quarter, Frank Gore took a handoff from Alex Smith. Boone cut left to erase defensive lineman Jason Jones, Goodwin blasted out to smother defensive tackle Clinton McDonald, and Iupati, foraging for a victim, ran ahead to clear out middle linebacker Bobby Wagner. Gore was off to the races. Gain of 37. This is what these three guys did all night for Gore and Kendall Hunter, particularly late, when their physical dominance showed.”
Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com also took note of San Francisco’s interior running success. Maiocco: “(Frank) Gore had six runs between the guards that gained 95 yards (15.8 average).”
Cam Inman of the San Jose Mercury News notes that the 49ers are now alone in first place atop the NFC West. Inman: “It took until Week 7 but the 49ers are alone in first place. It also took a third consecutive loss from the Arizona Cardinals, who fell 21-14 at Minnesota. The Cardinals (4-3) host the 49ers (5-2) next Monday in the 49ers’ first road game since their Sept. 30 shutout of the New York Jets.”
NFL Films offers a sneak-peak into Wednesday night’s “Eddie DeBartolo: A Football Life” special.
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Tags: Alex Boone, Andy Lee, Eddie DeBartolo, Jonathan Goodwin, Larry Grant, Mike Iupati
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