There was a play in Sunday's 40-21 blowout of the Seattle Seahawks that was supposed to turn the tide.
As Jeff Reed set up for a 33 yards, a Seattle special teams player hopped over two 49ers, jumped up and swatted the kick.
It didn't matter.
Jeff Reed, acquired in the absence of the injured Joe Nedney, put enough mustard on the kick to send it through the block and over the crossbar for three points.
If Reed's kick had been completely blocked, Seattle would have been given decent field position and serious momentum. Instead, the fruit of Reed's leg strength gave the 49ers the lead and some momentum of their own.
From that point on, coach Mike Singletary was not afraid to kick field goals. In Nedney's absence, Shane Andrews had not had the leg strength or accuracy to inspire confidence in long field goal situations. After missing two of four attempts on Monday night against the Cardinals, Andrews was let go, and Reed was acquired.
Although Nedney remains on the 49ers roster, Reed will likely prove to be the 49ers' future at placekicker.
A 49er since 2005, Nedney is in his 16th year as an NFL kicker, and at 37 years old he can't be too far from retirement. The injury to the knee on his planting leg must be evidence of this as well.
Reed was cut by the Pittsburgh Steelers after missing seven field goals this year. Having been with Pittsburgh for eight-and-a-half years, Reed's fingers sport two Super Bowl rings when filling out his résumé, and he has proved his ability to kick well from less than ideal surfaces.
At 31 years old, Reed should have a few more years left than Nedney. Old Joe is a great 49er, and his hard-nosed style and dead-on accuracy have been a staple of the 49ers over the last several years. The arrival of Jeff Reed, however, means it's just about time to turn the page—if San Francisco is to be seeking weeks of January football over the coming decade.
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