A lot of people are pretty excited about the 49ers’ defense, despite a lackluster showing against the Raiders on Saturday. In 13 days, it’s hoped, Patrick Willis and cohorts will force the Seattle Seahawks into a succession of three-and-outs.
The question is who will be back to receive the Seahawks’ punts after those defensive stands. Here are the most likely candidates:
Ginn has returned 36 punts in his three-year NFL career. He’s clearly the experienced hand(s) here. But this is what coach Mike Singletary said on the topic today: “I would envision Ted Ginn as the kickoff guy, not the punt, not for right now, and that could change.” Ginn is also expected to be the 49ers’ third wide receiver this year. Perhaps he won’t be subjected to punt returns.
The smart money was probably on Williams, the dynamic ASU rookie who looked decisive and quick through the first half of training camp. But he sprained his toe in the first preseason game, and probably won’t practice this week. Will he be healthy for the Seattle game? It seems overly optimistic. Might he make the team anyway? Yes, but it could take a while for Williams to be a common sight on Sundays.
The rookie wasn’t even a candidate two weeks ago. Since then, Adams started fielding punts at practice, and his 83-yard scoring return against Oakland could vault him straight to the top of the pack. What an unlikely move that would be for a guy who returned five punts for 18 yards as a senior at South Carolina State.
Jurovich is another guy who showed up late to the 49ers’ punt-return party. But let’s face it, the San Jose State wide receiver is a long shot to make the 53-man roster.
If Jurovich is a long shot to make the roster, Guillory is a BB being aimed at the moon. Jurovich hasn’t made much of an impression this August. Guillory has – and much of it has been bad, including two fumbles.
Reading over the list, what strikes me most is that the position seems truly up for grabs. All offseason, Singletary talked about the importance of special teams, and especially the return game. Now here we are as twilight settles upon the preseason, and the 49ers still don’t know who their punt returner is.
Hey, LeRoy Vann, is it too late to say “We’re sorry”?