Super Bowl XLVII: Niners kicker unreliable, but punter is top notch
Special teams doesn't often get the attention that goes to offense or defense, but many Super Bowls have been decided by the work of a kicker or return man.
There's no way to know whether the San Francisco 49ers or Baltimore Ravens will decide Super Bowl XLVII on a last-second kick, but here's a primer on what makes each team's special teams special or not.
Niners kicker David Akers hit a 63-yard field goal in Week 1 following a Pro Bowl season in San Francisco last year. Since going 3 for 3 in Week 1, he's missed 14 of 41 attempts, including his lone try against the Atlanta Falcons in the NFC Championship Game.
Ravens rookie kicker Justin Tucker, on the other hand, is 32 for 35 this season, including the playoffs. Plus, he proved he is cool under pressure when he hit the game winner against the New England Patriots during the regular season.
Niners coach Jim Harbaugh can't feel confident about trotting Akers out with the game on the line, so the Ravens have the edge here.
The importance of field position cannot be understated, especially in a game of this magnitude. Few punters in the league put their teams in better position following a three-and-out than the Niners' Andy Lee. He's a four-time All-Pro selection, including this season.
Sam Koch is a fine punter in his own right, and has been with the Ravens since 2006. He's no Lee, though, and the Niners have the edge in this battle.
Many happy returns
The Ravens' Jacoby Jones earned his first All-Pro and Pro Bowl selections this season after returning three kicks (two kickoffs and one punt) for touchdowns during the regular season. He averaged a league leading 30.7 yards per kickoff return.
Ted Ginn has been solid on punt returns (10.2 yard per return), but less impressive on kickoffs (23 ypr).
Based on 2012 results, the Ravens' Jones has the edge here.