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There is one small flaw in the 49ers Death Star

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the San Francisco 49ersseven-game winners and newly released NFC West champions, have a small flaw that could prove fatal in the future.

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Instead, I’m assuming that the bug lies with private teams. I’d also like to assume that a design flaw isn’t an as yet untapped anomaly like the Death Star’s thermal exhaust port, sitting dormant and waiting for an opportunistic team to discover it. This imbalance is making life even harder for the 49ers right now, and contributed to a dominant performance last week against the Seattle Seahawks that went just 21-13.

If you think the 49ers gave up more yardage on kick returns this year than usual, you’re not seeing things. San Francisco allows two yards per punt return this season, trailing only the Green Bay Packers, According to Statmuse. You never want to be compared to the Green Bay Packers on special teams.

Last year, under former special teams coordinator Richard Hightower, punter Mitch Wichnowski handled starting duties, and the team was slightly better in terms of overall ranking and touchdown allowed (29-for-31, 10.5 yards per return versus 11.7 yards per return, respectively). . This year, however, the 49ers have a new special teams coordinator in Brian Schneider, who turned catcher Robbie Gould.

The kickoff unit struggles not because of a bad tackle, but because of the constant kicking of the ball out of the end zone. There are two possible explanations as to why: 1) the 40-year-old Gould’s right leg is worn out and unable to get the ball into the end zone for a consistent running back. 2) Schneider asks Gould to kick the ball away from the end zone with holding time in the hopes that the 49ers’ kickoff coverage unit can down the opposing returner farther than the 25-yard line. This The dominant strategy around the league Now – even the Las Vegas Raiders Use a stand to improve your suspension time until you get into the NFL’s responsible division.

If this is explanation #2 (which is likely), the short kicks simply didn’t have enough hanging time. Two weeks ago, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers brought in the second half kickoff (Short drive to the end zone) to the midline. Last week, Seattle returned its opening kickoff to its own 35-yard line, and although the 49ers defense forced a punt not long after, good Seattle field position forced the 49ers to start their first drive at their own 10-yard line. They proceeded to play three and hit the ball back to Seattle.



The 49ers eventually climbed their way out of the field position hole when Purdy drove an 86-yard touchdown drive near the end of the first quarter, but the 49ers’ starting unit repeatedly Seattle was allowed to return the ball to their own 35-yard line. Talanoa Hufanga’s sack and the Seahawks’ stunning penalty kick on the subsequent penalty saved the 49ers from falling back into the hole, but it’s not hard to imagine a more efficient opponent punishing the 49ers for consistently giving up big returns on kickoffs.

Regardless of whether the short strikes resulted from Explanation #1 or Explanation #2, Gould is wrong. Coverage is often close to the returning opponent at the time he catches the ball. Gould also missed a 43-yard field goal with five minutes left that would have given the 49ers a two-point lead, but Gould has been generally reliable on field goals this year and misses every kick occasionally.

It’s his problems on kickoffs that are a real problem for the 49ers. DVOA, Comprehensive statistics for foreigners football Teams compared to the rest of the league, the Niners have the best defense in the league, the eighth best offense, and the 14th best special teams. San Francisco’s DVOA rating (28) dropped the final ranking. The Death Star plans show a clear weakness, whether you use eye testing or data to find it.

Now, the 49ers would rather have the biggest blemish on a starting unit than something on offense or defense. And they would certainly prefer Gould to be bad at kickoffs rather than field goals, because “we can’t trust our player who kicks a game-winning field goal” would be a disadvantage beyond “minuscule.”

The Seattle opener showed the 49ers can overcome this imbalance, even though it requires a 90-yard offensive drive and opponents fall back when they go up three against the 49ers defense. Those results might be achievable in a Wild Card round (did anyone think Sunday night’s Commanders-Giants game was a role model for competent football?), or in a divisional round against Worst 11-3 team in recent memory.

But would you require Brock Purdy to consistently drive 90 yards against a Philadelphia Eagles defense that leads the NFL in sacks and turnovers? Or to ask the 49ers defense — or any defense, for that matter — to simply force Patrick Mahomes, Josh Allen, or Joe Burrow into three teams regularly? These assumptions assume that the worst thing to come out of bad kicks is bad fielding, not a game-changing running back touchdown.

The bug doesn’t seem like much; It’s a pimple on a giant. It’s also just the kind of thing that can annihilate what would otherwise be a tyrannical force destroying the planet.

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