Veterans add special-teams 'pizzazz'

December, 10, 2013
12/10/13
11:00
AM ET
SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- Thirteen games into the season and it's clear the San Francisco 49ers' special teams, particularly its coverage unit, are much improved.

The coverage unit was one of the team's few weak spots in 2012. It was a season-long problem that culminated in the team allowing a kick return for a touchdown in the Super Bowl loss to the Baltimore Ravens.

Osgood
Osgood
Ventrone
Ventrone
Upgrading the unit was paramount. The team turned to Kassim Osgood and Bubba Ventrone for help. Both are veterans who are essentially just special team players. But they have long been considered among the best special teams players in the NFL.

Along with C.J. Spillman, long the star of the 49ers coverage unit, Osgood and Ventrone have helped make this a dominant group. Osgood had a blocked punt that led to three points for the 49ers in their 19-17 win over Seattle on Sunday. Ventrone added four tackles on special teams.

Harbaugh says Osgood and Ventrone bring a zest to the game for the 49ers.

"They haven't had a bad day between the two of them," Harbaugh said of his additions.

On Ventrone, Harbaugh had this to say: "He's got a lot of talent. He plays fast. He runs fast. That's what he's been doing extremely well. Penetrating on the kickoff. And, he's smart, physical on the punt. He's our punt protector. He just plays with a lot of great energy and effort. He's special in that way. He's a shining light, shining star in that regard … been thrilled to have him on our team. He's a joy to be around every single day. He doesn't have a bad day. He doesn't come to work down or, he's just not had one bad day since we've been with him. A great teammate. "

This is what Harbaugh had to say about Osgood's approach:

"We've talked about this a lot just as a team, just how great Kassim has been for our team. A wonderful, wonderful teammate. Every day he comes with a bounce in his step. Pizzazz. There are guys that have just got oomph. Don't know another way to say it other than he's got a lot of pizzazz. There are some people, we all know them, that kind of sleepwalk through the day and got no oomph. He's the opposite of that. He's got a lot of pizzazz."

With Ventrone and Osgood in the mix, so does San Francisco's special teams.

Bill Williamson | email

ESPN San Francisco 49ers reporter

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