49ers special teams coach breaks down recent struggles


The 49ers' Week 13 loss to the Seattle Seahawks was filled with mistakes. 

Offensively, defensively and on special teams, San Francisco was unable to get out of their own way in a 30-23 loss at the hands of their division rivals. 

Seattle struck first on the game's opening drive, electing to punt on fourth-and-6 before pulling off a successful fake-punt and score on a Travis Homer 73-yard touchdown run. The 49ers received the ball to begin the third quarter, but return man Travis Benjamin fumbled the opening kickoff. 

The two special teams mistakes against Seattle loomed large in the loss, especially after surrendering a kick return touchdown the week prior against the Minnesota Vikings. 

Special teams coordinator Richard Hightower believes the unit's performance recently is not up to standard and explained how they will move forward after struggling in back-to-back games. 

"What we're going to do is we're going to go back to work," Hightower told reporters Wednesday. "Like we’ve always done, just like we do after a win or a loss and I need to coach better. And obviously, they feel like they need to play better. We've had two weeks that are not up to our standard in a row and we can't have that happen if we want to go where we want to go. And we know it's not up to our standard and I believe that we'll get back to our standard. They know, I've told them.


"We played three bad games this year, two Seattle games and the Minnesota game. Every other game, I have to give those guys credit because they went out there and they did what they were supposed to do. And they did a hell of a job. And those other three games, when we didn't play well, that falls on me and I have to get them better.”

Hightower explained how the unit can improve and what the focus will be in practice this week heading into Week 14's matchup against the Cincinnati Bengals. 

"In those areas, the guys are working on getting off blocks," Hightower said. "I'm working on my calls, what I'm calling for them to get off blocks and to set them up in different positions. And they're working on tackling and we're going to work on it again today. We've designed some drill work today, cut out just for kickoff coverage.

"We're always going to do what we always do, but we want to do something a little bit different that we do in training camp today to work on our tackling and work on getting off blocks. And these guys are going to work their tails off. I don't have any qualms about how hard they are going to work and try to get back after it."

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Special teams play oftentimes goes unnoticed, but mistakes can loom just as large as mistakes on offense and defense. 

With five games remaining in the 2021 NFL season, the 49ers will need improved play from all three areas of the team if they hope to secure a spot in the NFC playoffs

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