The 49ers Special Special Teams--10/18/01
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One clear way to determine how successful a team will be in the NFL is to take a look at the special teams. When evaluating teams, most people look first to the offense, then the defense and of course the coaching staff. Most of the time the special teams arenít even looked at. Thatís unfortunate.

The most refined teams in the NFL, both of today and throughout history have been solid from quarterback to kicker. Perhaps one reason the special teams are such a good indicator of a teams success is that to have a really good special teams, the coaching staff must be doing one heck of a job. A good coaching staff takes care of every aspect of the game, and the special teams are certainly a large part of that.

Special teams are not merely the players on the field for extra points and field goals. This set of players is responsible for determining field position throughout the game, for both teams. A good special teams can actually control the starting point of the other team. The special teams puts points on the board, and can instantly change the flow of the game with a big hit, a long field goal, a touchdown runback - and the list goes on.

The 49ers this season have put lots of effort into finding a solid special teams. They found a kicker in Jose Cortez who has been perfect so far this season even from outside of fifty-yards. Days before the season began the team found returner Vinny Sutherland who has shown quickness, good decision-making and reliable hands. Jason Baker was found days before the season began too, and while his performance in punting the ball has fluctuated, he has for the most part done a good job. It doesnít stop there though, players like Terry Jackson contribute in many different aspects of the special teams game, and loves being on the field as much as possible. This people is the sign of a well coached teams. Players want to go above and beyond what is asked of them for the good of the team and because of the motivation from the coaches.

Are the 49ers a good team? Heck yeah, just look at their record 4-1 tied for second in the NFL with two other teams. Can they continue to be a good team? Well that will just depend wont it? It will depend on health, and the play of the offense and defense. Oh and letís not forget, the special teams; where it all begins and ends. For the 49ers to continue to have success, the coaching staff need to continue enforcing the fundamentals, right down to the extra-point.

Talk about it in the 49ers Paradise Forum

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