49ers’ special teams coordinator on new NFL kickoff rule

Jun 1, 2023, 11:51 AM

Ray-Ray McCloud III #3 of the San Francisco 49ers returns a kick during the first quarter of a pres...

Ray-Ray McCloud III #3 of the San Francisco 49ers returns a kick during the first quarter of a preseason game against the Houston Texans at NRG Stadium on August 25, 2022 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images)

(Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images)

In May, the NFL passed a new rule for kickoffs.

Starting this upcoming season, fair catches are to be placed at the 25-yard-line of the receiving team. Players can still run the ball back but will have the option to fair-catch with automatic advancement to the 25-yard-line.

The rule has not been well received, especially by special teams coordinators. Tom Pelissero, of NFL Network, reported when the rule passed that “special teams coordinators unanimously opposed the change.”

San Francisco 49ers special teams coordinator Brian Schneider told reporters he isn’t sure the change addresses player safety.

“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. They say it’s going to be like college, but is it,” Schneider said.

As the team prepares for next season, Schneider said he’s looking at how colleges have adjusted to the same rule.

“It’s more or less just trying to figure out what we’re going to anticipate seeing and then I think through preseason and once you start getting some tape on guys, you’ll see their philosophy,” Schneider explained. “Are they going to fair catch it? For me, it’s more being prepared for our kickoff return team and trying to anticipate, prepare them for whatever teams are going to try and do. There’s been so many changes in the last 15 years on kickoff and kickoff return. When I started it was four-man wedge, three-man wedge, two-man wedge, one, illegal double teams. There’s been like 20 rules, so we’ll all adjust to it and we’ll figure it out.”

How is the new San Francisco 49ers kicker looking?

During his time speaking with the media, Schneider was also asked about the team’s new kicker, third-round pick Jake Moody.

The special teams coordinator said the Michigan product has been “everything we thought he was.”

“Consistent, really-even keeled. He’s just really consistent in everything he does from his approach, to his ball flight, to his finish, to the way he is around here all day, so it’s been fun having him,” Schneider said.

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