Wednesday, August 1, 2012
Fisher's right, as 49ers' trick reminds Rams
By Mike Sando
EARTH CITY, Mo. -- Jeff Fisher likes a punter with a good arm.
That is one reason the Fisher-coached St. Louis Rams signed a rookie punter, John Hekker, with an 80 percent completion rate on five attempts at Oregon State.
"He can throw, and that's a big part of our punt team," Fisher said following practice Wednesday.
Special-teams trickery can devastate an opponent and swing a game's outcome.
"The Music City Miracle" accomplished both for the Tennessee Titans against Buffalo in a playoff game following the 1999 season.
Fisher was the Titans' coach when Frank Wycheck's lateral freed kick returner Kevin Dyson for the winning touchdown in that game. Now in his first season coaching the Rams, Fisher still values a good special-teams ruse. The players St. Louis retained from last season certainly know the value of one.
The Rams had played San Francisco tough through most of three quarters of their Week 17 game last season when 49ers receiver Michael Crabtree scored on a 14-yard reception from kicker David Akers. The 49ers won, 34-27. Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo was probably on his way out anyway, but if there had been any hope for him, that play had to kill it.
"It was just probably the lowest I've ever felt," Rams safety Quintin Mikell said this week. "I felt so bad for 'Spags' and I felt bad for the Rams' fans and I felt bad for everyone that was associated because that was just inexcusable at that point."
Sounds like the Rams plan to be on the other end of such plays.
The threat of a fake punt or fake field goal can keep a coverage team honest. That has some value even if the fakes themselves don't always work.