October 15 Philadelphia Daily News:
“The one thing the Eagles absolutely couldn’t afford Sunday, as they lined up to kick off after David Akers’ 45-yard field goal provided them a 10-point lead with 4:35 left in the fourth quarter, was a huge San Francsico return.
The game was in hand, the clock just needed to tick. Pin the 49ers deep, break up a few long throws, get the ball back, run more time off, go home.
Akers kicked to the sideline on his left, and the Eagles seemed to get downfield in good order. Returner Ted Ginn Jr. started running laterally, which is often the kiss of death on a kickoff return, as the coverage personnel get more and more time to pursue. But then, somehow, Ginn was turning the corner, untouched, and he would have been gone for a touchdown if Akers hadn’t angled him out of bounds after a 61-yard gain. The 49ers were in business at the Eagles‘ 36, and they quickly scored to make it 27-24.
These are the times that try men’s souls; certainly they are trying Bobby April, who arrived in the offseason as the miracle worker of special-teams coordinators. When Ted Daisher was pushed out and April was hired, nobody really envisioned the Eagles‘ kick and punt units going backwards.
It’s still early, as the 3-2 Eagles prepare to face the 4-1 Falcons Sunday, but it’s getting later all the time for a team ranked 27th covering punts and 21st covering kicks.
“It can be exasperating at times, but that’s why we’re here, to try to overcome the problems,” April said yesterday. “And when we don’t, we’re responsible for not overcoming them.”
Not solely, of course. One guy who didn’t get to Ginn on that crucial return was running back Mike Bell, who, coincidentally or not, finds himself a Cleveland Brown today. It’s unclear whether Jerome Harrison, acquired in the Bell trade Wednesday, will know enough about what the Eagles do on offense or on special teams to help out Sunday.
“Coach Reid has been tremendous,” April said. “I couldn’t ask for more, to be honest. Any fallibility we’re experiencing is solely on myself.””
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