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49ers’ special teams coach unsure new kickoff rule improves player safety

NFL Competition Committee Chair Rich McKay states the kickoff rule change starts with “health and safety,” but Mike Florio and Chris Simms echo Matthew Slater’s comments to question how that’s the case.

San Francisco special teams coordinator Brian Schneider is not so sure the NFL’s new kickoff rule will actually do anything for player safety.

The stated purpose of the rule, which encourages kickoff returners to fair catch the ball by spotting the ball on the 25 after fair catches, is to reduce the number of concussions on kickoffs. But Schneider says he doesn’t necessarily see that happening.

“Yeah, well when you say safety of the player, we’re all in favor of that, and so that’s where it starts, and we all agree on that,” Schneider said, via “I don’t know if this necessarily addresses any of that. I think there could be more returns, there could be shorter kicks, there could be more collisions, there could be dirty balls like a squib or a bloop, so there’s going to be more coverages because of it, too, so I don’t know if we have enough of a sample set to really say, and like I said, I don’t even know the rules yet.”

Not a single NFL special teams coordinator has spoken in favor of the new rule, but NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell was strongly in favor of it, and he convinced enough owners to go along with it that the rule is here, for at least the 2023 season.