No. 1: Can 49ers punt coverage keep up the stellar work?
The main bright spot of the 49ers special teams performance came from their punt coverage, where the Niners ranked seventh in the NFL, due primarily to the work of their gunners, Raheem Mostert and Tarvarius Moore.
However, things will soon be different with the gunners, simply because of the players themselves.
More from Niner Noise
- 49ers 2023 NFL Draft tracker: Pick-by-pick news and analysis
- Predicting 49ers NFL Draft picks by looking at final mocks
- DraftKings NFL Draft Promo – Win $150 Guaranteed on Any $5 Bet
- 2023 NFL Draft: EDGE Byron Young could be impact player for 49ers
- 5 low-key NFL Draft options for 49ers who are flying under the radar
In the start of last year, both Moore and Mostert were backups. Moore got some run time replacing free safety Jimmie Ward while he was injured, but both players, by and large, made their mark through special teams. As time went on, though, things changed. Moore became more involved in different three-safety looks on defense, especially in the Super Bowl, while Mostert took the starting running back job by the horns.
Now heading into 2020, neither player will play as prominent a role in special teams. Moore may still have some action there, but as his performance in the Super Bowl hinted, he’s going to be a producer for the 49ers defense. And as the starting tailback, it is unlikely the 49ers end up having Mostert also play special teams.
The implication of this is how the punt coverage is in a precarious position. Punt coverage works in complete sync with the defense. The better the field position for the opposing team, the less likely the defense will succeed. For the 49ers to help out their defense, they need their punt coverage to be on point.
The replacements for the gunners are not impossible to find, but they won’t be at the same caliber. The major way to stop any regression is through the progression of Mitch Wishnowsky the punter. Last year, Wishnowsky was carried by his gunners several times. Perhaps now it’s time he carries his gunners a bit.
A team with the talent of the 49ers finds their improvements in smaller less obvious places. A strong special teams unit is one of the best ways to find that improvement.