49ers notes: Special teams still a problem against Chiefs

Published: Saturday, Aug. 17, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 6C
Last Modified: Saturday, Aug. 17, 2013 - 8:20 am

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – One of the 49ers' offseason tasks was to bolster a special-teams unit that allowed a 108-yard kickoff return to open the second half of the Super Bowl.

On Friday, the revamped unit allowed a 104-yard touchdown return five minutes into the game, one of several miscues in a sloppy game for the 49ers' special teams.

Punter Andy Lee's first punt shanked off the side of his foot and there were two penalties on 49ers' punts. Return man LaMichael James had to dive to secure the first Chiefs punt despite the lack of wind at Arrowhead Stadium. Even an extra point attempt late in the game was blocked.

The good news: Phil Dawson struck all three of his field-goal attempts, including two from 55 yards. Outside linebacker Parys Haralson also blocked a punt and recovered the ball in the third quarter.

The 49ers strengthened their special teams in the offseason by signing free agents like Dawson and coverage ace Dan Skuta and by drafting players like linebacker Nick Moody.

All three were on the field as Quintin Demps took Dawson's kick four yards deep in the end zone, split Skuta and safety Craig Dahl and then outraced Dawson and cornerback Perish Cox for the touchdown, the only one of the half.

Chiefs returner Devon Wylie (Granite Bay High) returned a punt 52 yards early in the third quarter.

Coach Jim Harbaugh said he was most upset about the 49ers' 10 penalties in the game, three of which occurred on special teams.

"It's a concern, and we've got to go to work on that," Harbaugh said.

Jenkins watch – Wide receiver A.J. Jenkins played from the first quarter to the third quarter but did not have a catch.

He was targeted twice, and like last week, a long pass attempt from Colt McCoy to Jenkins resulted in an easy interception by the opposition. McCoy tried to hit Jenkins streaking down the sideline, but the receiver was blanketed by big cornerback Sean Smith, who picked off the pass.

Like last week, Anquan Boldin and Marlon Moore (Natomas High) started at wide receiver but left the game after the opening series.

Chad Hall played one more snap than Jenkins and was the only wide receiver to make a catch, a 21 yarder from Scott Tolzien, in the first half.

Jenkins had a 21-yard completion early in the third quarter, but it was wiped out by a holding penalty against backup center Daniel Kilgore.

Dahl starts again – Dahl started his second straight game at free safety alongside Donte Whitner. Dahl, first-round draft pick Eric Reid, C.J. Spillman and Trenton Robinson had been alternating practice repetitions with the first-team defense in training camp.

Et cetera – Fourth-round draft pick Quinton Patton was in uniform for pre-game warmups, signaling that the wide receiver might be close to returning to full-time status. Patton damaged the forefinger on his left hand before training camp opened, and while he has been able to run routes at practice, he was instructed not to catch passes.

• Joe Staley, who missed four practices in the run-up to the game with an undisclosed injury, started at left tackle. Staley left the game later in the first half as a precaution and was replaced by Adam Snyder.

• Jewel Hampton was the third tailback to enter the game after Frank Gore and James. Hampton, who did not play last season, finished with 33 yards on 19 carries (1.7-yard average) and caught two passes for 17 yards.

• As was the case last week against Denver, an inside linebacker led the 49ers in tackles. Moody had 10 stops; Michael Wilhoite led the team last week.

Read Matthew Barrows' blogs and archives at www.sacbee.com/sf49ers and listen for his reports Tuesdays on ESPN Radio 1320. Follow him on Twitter @mattbarrows.

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