Super Bowl 2013: Special Teams Players Who Will Impact Game the Most

Joseph ZuckerFeatured ColumnistFebruary 2, 2013

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - DECEMBER 30: David Akers #2 of the San Francisco 49ers kicks a field goal against the Arizona Cardinals at Candlestick Park on December 30, 2012 in San Francisco, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

David Akers could either be the hero or goat after Super Bowl XLVII.

It's been a bit of roller coaster kind of season for the 38-year-old kicker.

In the first week of the season, Akers hit a 63-yard field goal, which tied the record for longest field goal. That field goal was the peak his season.

Akers made only 69 percent of his field goals on the season. He ranked 30th out of the 31 kickers who qualified during the regular season. Luckily for the veteran kicker, his missed field goal against the Atlanta Falcons didn't cost the San Francisco 49ers the NFC title.

The team may not be as lucky against the Baltimore Ravens in the Super Bowl. On the other hand, Akers' experience could prove key in a pressure-packed moment.

San Francisco fans will certainly hope he's more Adam Vinatieri than Scott Norwood.

Along with Akers, here are three other special teams players who will be vital for their teams in the Super Bowl.


Andy Lee, P, San Francisco

Andy Lee tied for the highest net-punting average during the regular season. He was one of the best punters in the NFL in 2012.

Lee doesn't have the biggest leg, but that's not always a good thing. Sometimes the punter can out-kick the coverage and give the returner too much space with which to do damage.

In a game like this where it's hard to give one team the distinct advantage, winning field position can be critical.

One of Lee's biggest assets is how he is able to direct his punts. He nailed 36 punts inside the 20-yard line, third in the league. That will be important in giving the Ravens the longest field possible.

Part of his job will also be to keep it away from the next player listed.


Jacoby Jones, KR/PR, Baltimore

When it comes to the return game this Sunday, nobody is a bigger threat than Jacoby Jones.

While most fans would probably think of his game-tying touchdown reception against the Denver Broncos, Jones has been deadly when it comes to both kick and punt returns.

He's averaged 30.7 yards a kick return, taking two back for touchdowns. Jones added a punt return touchdown as well.

Desmond Howard demonstrated in Super Bowl XXXI what kind of weapon a good return man is. Howard won MVP honors after registering 244 return yards, 99 of which came on a kick return touchdown.

His big-play ability can change the game, but if Jones can just help shorten the field for Joe Flacco, he will have done his job.


Justin Tucker, K, Baltimore

Justin Tucker was a model of reliability in 2012. He finished 30-of-33 on the season. The three missed field goals came between 40 and 49 yards.

Yards might be very hard to come by against a 49ers defense that was one of the best in the NFL during the regular season. Tucker doesn't want to leave points on the board by missing field goals.

He might not have the strongest leg in the league, but the fact that Tucker was 4-of-4 from 50 yards and beyond means Baltimore can rely on him to hit long-range efforts.

It likely isn't a good sign, though, as all four of those field goals came in losses for the Ravens.