Posted: 12:00 p.m. Sunday, July 28, 2013
By James Brady
Here at Niners Nation, we're presenting a series called "90-in-90". We'll be looking at every player on the 49ers offseason roster, one player per post, from now until the start of training camp.
My first draft of this 90-in-90 look at San Francisco 49ers punter Andy Lee used the word "awesome," approximately 400 times. I had to scrap that and get to the actual analysis, so my second draft was just two words, and they were "Andy," and "Lee." But apparently that's not SEO-friendly. So I had to start again.
At this point, Andy Lee is a known commodity. He is one of the NFL's best punters, and the 49ers nabbing him from the Pittsburgh Steelers was one of the most awesome moves they could have done at the time. Lee is a three-time Pro Bowl selection, most recently making it in 2011 alongside kicker David Akers.
He's got a career average of 45.9 yards per punt.
The only downside to Lee at this point is simple: we don't want to ever see him on the field. If the 49ers could go an entire season without using Lee, then fine. He'll make a good deal of money just holding on field goals, and I'm fine with that. But watching him in action is a treat when we have to.
Because ... he's Andy Lee, I suppose. Lee's average yards per punt have been pretty darn consistent over the past several seasons. Lee's statistical improvement would likely be more to do with the large amount of young, hungry players the 49ers will push onto the field. There's many players who are hoping to start in the future, and those players will flash some serious talent on special teams. Better coverage units equals a "better" season for Lee
Lee is 30 years old, and coming up on his 31st birthday in August. Obviously, punters and kickers have a bit more longevity than other positions, but there's always a chance that he just hits that wall. He'll start shanking punts and his reaction time will plummet and ... that's bad news for a punter. Is that likely? No, but it's basically the only reason he could regress, outside of him statistically regressing due to never having to see the field.
He'd have to suffer a career-ending injury or insult Jim Harbaugh's wardrobe to not make the team, at this point. He's the punter, and he's signed through the 2018 season. He signed a seven-year extension worth more than $20 million. He's making it.