One of the newest additions to the San Francisco 49ers organization is linebacker Dan Skuta, who signed a two-year deal. Skuta has been in the NFL for four years with the Cincinnati Bengals and only accumulated four career starts. So why is he significant? He was one of the top special teams tacklers in the league last year (led the Bengals with 17 special teams tackles in 2012).
Skuta won’t make any highlights on any sports shows, nobody will talk about him the next day or mention his name even once during the regular season. But he’ll make an impact on Brad Seely’s special teams unit. Over the past three seasons he has not missed a game, so Skuta has proven to be dependable, showing up for work week in and week out.
Though he may lack natural talent, Skuta won’t shortchange his team on effort. He is a premier special teams player and will do what’s asked of him. In addition to covering kicks in Cincinnati, he also lined up at defensive end, linebacker and fullback. Skuta relishes the unglamorous role of getting in the way of blockers while knocking returners over, reflecting his blue collar attitude. With Delanie Walker‘s departure to the Tennessee Titans, Skuta may have taken over as the new “Swiss Army Knife.”
San Francisco allowed the second highest kickoff return average last year (26.9 yards per return). Jacoby Jones’ 108-yard return for a touchdown in the Super Bowl highlighted just how anemic the 49ers were in containing returners. Obtaining a proven player like Skuta already upgrades the special teams department. With Percy Harvin and Patrick Peterson residing in the division, the 49ers must do whatever they can to keep those playmakers contained.
The kick coverage team is probably the least talked about group when it comes to football. But excelling in that area will in turn help Patrick Willis and his defense. Forcing the opposing offense to march an extra five to 10 yards would go a long ways in keeping points off the board.
Skuta’s signing has probably been swept under the rug, but his approach to the game will undoubtedly improve the 49ers football team in more ways than one.
You can follow Travis on Twitter @TravisChan1