By paying attention to the little things, the 49ers are hoping again for big things in 2014.
While the conversation about San Francisco’s offseason needs have centered on making upgrades at wide receiver and cornerback, keeping veteran wideout Anquan Boldin and kicker Phil Dawson and finding a backup quarterback, the 49ers also haven’t let underappreciated talents slip through the cracks.
The 49ers acknowledged how much Kassim Osgood meant to their special-teams improvement in 2013 by re-signing Osgood – a wide receiver – to a one-year deal on Monday.
Osgood has made his living in the NFL as a star on special teams – being selected to three Pro Bowls -- and his presence in 2013 helped San Francisco improve greatly. He had 12 special-teams tackles, blocked a punt and recovered a muffed punt in the end zone for a touchdown.
In conjunction with others such as backup linebackers Dan Skuta, Michael Wilhoite and Corey Lemonier, cornerback Darryl Morris and safeties C.J. Spillman, Bubba Ventrone and Craig Dahl, Osgood helped the 49ers become one of the NFL’s best kickoff-coverage units in 2013. They finished tied for third in the NFL after being one of the NFL’s worst kickoff coverage teams (ranked 31st) in 2012.
Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle reports that Osgood ranked No. 1 among all special teams players for “big plays” (as judged by 49ers coaches) with 16. Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee reports the one year deal for Osgood, 33, will pay him a base salary of $955,000.
Osgood is listed on the roster as a wide receiver, but he played just 45 snaps on offense in 2013 and caught just one pass.
Though the re-signing of Osgood creates a bit of a logjam on the roster for wide receivers, the 49ers obviously believe his retention is well worth it. With Boldin, Michael Crabtree, Quinton Patton and Osgood all expected to make the roster, that gives the 49ers four wide receivers – with the team expected to carry five or six at the most in 2014.