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David Akers connected on a 63-yard field goal against the Packers
In kicker David Akers and punter Andy Lee, the San Francisco 49ers have, arguably, the two best kicking specialists in the NFL.
Akers was a first-team All-Pro in 2011 and set an NFL record for most field goals and most points in a season. And he started off the 2012 season where he left off last year, converting all three of his field-goal attempts, including a 63-yarder, which bounced off the crossbar and over. That kick tied the NFL record for the longest field goal.
Lee was also a first-team All-Pro in 2011 and led the league in punting average. He has a strong leg, but also is adept at pinning the opposition deep inside their own territory with directional punts or high kicks that must be fair-caught inside the 20-yard line.
Lee averaged 51.2 yards-per-punt against Green Bay, which was right about where he was in 2011. The only blemish on the 49ers' special teams was a 75-yard punt return for a touchdown by Randall Cobb in the fourth quarter.
On that play, a blatant block in the back, which knocked down Anthony Dixon who was closing in on the tackle, was not called by the officials. This helped to spring Cobb for the score that put the Packers within eight points of the 49ers.
When the 49ers traded Colin Jones and cut Rock Cartwright, both known for their excellent special- teams play, I was worried that there may be a drop-off in the Niners' coverage units. On the long return by Cobb, once he got outside, there was nobody but Lee, the punter, to stop him and it was no match.
The 49ers will need to improve their coverage teams and cannot allow these long returns. Nevertheless, with Akers and Lee, they have two outstanding kicking specialists who can sway the game in their favor.