49ers bring back Ventrone to special teams

The 49ers Tuesday brought back a key member of their coverage units from last season in Bubba Ventrone after struggling the last two weeks to cover punts.

The 49ers enter next week's game against the St. Louis Rams 29th in the NFL in net punting average. Over the last two weeks, they allowed a touchdown return to the Eagles' Darren Sproles and a 28-yard return to De'Anthony Thomas of the Chiefs, which led to a second-half touchdown.

To bolster their cover units, they will re-sign special teamer Bubba Ventrone, according to multiple reports. Ventrone spent the offseason program with San Francisco and was a surprise release prior to the regular season after being a core member of the special teams unit last year. The 49ers also let go of former long snapper Kyle McDermott and gunners C.J. Spillman and Kassim Osgood, although Osgood was brought back after Week 1.

"We’ve got to do a better job of covering those punts," 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh said Monday. "Need a little more hang time. And, that’s always been our best unit. We’ve set records around here on the punt team. Andy (Lee) does an incredible job punting the football."

The corresponding move to the 53-man roster has not been made.

Ventrone was third on San Francisco's special teams with eight tackles last season when he served as Lee's personal protector in punt coverage. Craig Dahl has taken over that role this season, and made a key play in Sunday's win over the Chiefs with a fourth-quarter run up the middle on a fake punt that led to the go-ahead field goal.


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