By now every San Francisco 49ers fan should have recovered from the emotional win over the New Orleans Saints, key word being “should.” Even though my focus is on the New York Giants, I cannot help but reminisce on this past Saturday’s win. As we all know by now the win was a complete team effort. The offense, defense, and special teams all played spectacular; but what unit was the most consistent in the game? The offense played great in the first quarter and kept the season alive in the fourth quarter, but in the second and third quarters the offense was non existence. The Niner offense in those two quarters was able to muster only 3 points. The defense played fantastic against the high powered Saints offense giving up only 17 points through three and a half quarters. Uncharacteristically the defense surrendered 15 points in the final four minutes of the game, in both scoring drives the Niner defenders were missing tackles and over pursuing to the ball. This leaves one unit left and it indeed showed the most consistency throughout the game and will be a huge factor in the NCF championship game.
Of course I am talking about the special teams! When football fans mention a complete team, they are usually talking about a team that has both a good offense and defense. The one unit that always gets overlooked is the special teams and I must admit that I have been guilty of it as well. They are the unsung heroes, more so than offensive lineman. I have never noticed how important and valuable they are until this season.
In the game against the Saints the Niner special teams could do no wrong throughout the entire game. Punter Andy Lee was amazing as he has been all season long. He punted eight times averaging 49.5 yards and pinned the Saints inside the 20 in multiple occasions. Against the Saints, or any team for that matter, having a punter that can give your team instant field position is a great luxury; particularly in the post season.
Kicker David Akers was efficient going three for three in his field goal attempts. For the few that do not know Akers set the NFL record for most points made in a season. It is safe to say that he is a reliable kicker and he will have a big role in next week’s game versus the Giants where I expect the game to come down to a last second field goal.
Now Akers and Lee have done a hell of a job this entire season and thus far in the post season, but the special teams would not be complete without their awesome coverage teams. LB Blake Costanzo and CB C.J. Spillman are aces in covering both punts and kickoffs. Along with the rest of the coverage team, they have not allowed a return for a touchdown all season and on Saturday’s playoff game they forced two turnovers which the Niners’ offense turned into much needed points. When Akers has not been able to force a touchback during a kickoff the coverage team is there to stop the opposing team from getting to the 20. The Saints were lucky if they got to the 15. The players in the coverage teams are purely just ANIMALS!
The Niners and Giants are two evenly matched teams. The first meeting was decided by 7 points; expect this meeting to be decided by less. It might just come down to special teams, whether it be a blocked punt or kick, a return for a touchdown, or as I am predicting a last second field goal from either team. All I know is that our special teams is the best in the NFL, so if it does come down to them, I am very confident on the outcome. GO NINERS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!