Which 49ers make Santa’s naughty and nice lists in 2021?

Santa Claus makes a visit (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
Santa Claus makes a visit (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images) /
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Richard Hightower, San Francisco 49ers
Special Teams Coordinator Richard Hightower of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images) /

Santa’s naughty list: Coordinator Richard Hightower

The 49ers offense and defense have made great strides to collectively improve from being on the naughty list all the way towards being very nice over the second half of the season.

The same can’t exactly be said of the Niners’ special teams unit, though.

This is special teams coordinator Richard Hightower’s department, and it’s safe to say his third phase of the game has often let the other two phases down a lot this season, and there haven’t even been those late-surge efforts to impress Santa ahead of Christmas.

Case in point, entering Week 18, Football Outsiders ranked San Francisco’s special teams 24th in the league in terms of DVOA (minus-2.6 percent).

Sure, being on special teams is often a thankless job. Very rarely are there the splash plays that’ll warrant immediate placement on Santa’s nice list, yet there are plenty of times when one small gaffe can put you on the naughty list in a hurry.

Just ask JaMycal Hasty.

For Hightower, though, he might want to consider doing some hard work over the next year to get back into Mr. Claus’s good graces and hopefully crack that nice list once again.