Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

49ers’ special teams needs to improve, says Kyle Shanahan

Rohan Chakravarthi
Dec 6, 2021 at 6:30 PM--

Special teams has made critical errors for the 49ers two weeks in a row, and potentially cost the team a win yesterday with more mistakes.

On the first drive of the game, following three amazing defensive plays in which Azeez Al-Shaair and Jaquiski Tartt both blew up Seattle's designed screen passes, forcing a 4th & 6. However, the Seahawks caught the 49ers by surprise on the ensuing play, as Travis Homer took the snap on a fake punt and ran it to the house for a 73-yard touchdown.

Then, later in the game, 49er wide receiver Travis Benjamin fumbled on the second half kickoff, giving Seattle some much needed momentum, and shifting the entire game in favor of the Seahawks, who eventually won 30-23.

Earlier today, Kyle Shanahan was asked about the poor special teams play, especially with how costly the mistakes have been.

"Well, yeah, two weeks in a row [special teams] given up some bad plays," Shanahan said on Monday. "We know it happened last week versus Minnesota. Team played good enough around it to overcome it. We went into this week knowing how big of a deal it is, how good Seattle's been, how we were a little undermanned with some injuries that we had, which usually is a chain reaction down to special teams. So we knew how big of a deal it would be."

Despite understanding the importance of special teams in this game, special teams coordinator Richard Hightower failed to prepare his group, as Dontae Johnson looked wholly unprepared for even the possibility of a fake, even though Travis Homer was right behind the long snapper.

With the swing of momentum that the fake punt and the fumble by Benjamin created for Seattle, Shanahan is aware that the special teams group needs to improve for the team to be a consistent force.

"And to miss that, for them to get that fake punt on the first special teams play of the game was huge," Shanahan added. "The fumble that we had was even bigger. And then the missed extra point, big deal too. So we definitely have to play there better and we're trying to work at it."

It's clear that Hightower needs to improve his unit or the 49ers won't stand a chance, given the inconsistencies of the offense and the defensive injuries that continue to occur.

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