Grading the 49ers: Punt returners

Before: Tedd Ginn Jr. and Kyle Williams.

Grade: B-

Why: Until December, Ginn was one of best punt returners in the league and Kyle Williams was a talented backup. Then Ted Ginn Jr. injured his ankle and Kyle Williams sustained a brutal concussion, and punt returner became the Niners biggest weakness. Williams recovered and Ginn didn’t, so Williams had to return punts in the playoffs. The Niners forgot that Williams fumbled punts in big moments back in college, but they remembered when he fumbled two in the NFC championship game against the Giants. He will fumble no more punts for the Niners because he’s been replaced as the backup returner.

Now: Subtract Williams. Add LaMichael James and Perrish Cox.

Grade: A

Why: James is so explosive he could replace Ginn at punt returner as early as this season. The newly-signed Cox returned punts in college and he was very effective – averaging 11.6 yards per return. What about A.J. Jenkins, you might be asking? He didn’t return a single punt in college, but he did return 38 kickoffs. He could replace Kendall Hunter as the kick returner opposite Ted Ginn Jr. The Niners are more than set at returner.

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