Niner of the Week

Kicker Joe Nedney is SFI's NOTW for his performance in San Francisco's 15-10 upset victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, when the ninth-year veteran's left foot accounted for every point scored by the 49ers.

Sunday standout: Nedney kicked a career-high five field goals, all of which contributed to the 49ers methodically taking control of the game and maintaining it in what became a defensive struggle. Nedney began the scoring with a 45-yard field goal with six minutes remaining in the second quarter, then split the uprights with a 47-yarder on the last play of the first half after Tampa Bay's Matt Bryant had tied the score at 3-3 with a 47-yard field goal of his own 18 seconds earlier. Nedney followed with 41- and 46-yard kicks in the third period to give the 49ers a 12-3 lead entering the final period. Then – after Tampa Bay had crept within 12-10 by scoring the game's only touchdown – Nedney kicked a 28-yarder with 1:56 remaining to ensure that the Bucs would need to score another touchdown in the final minutes to pull out the win. Nedney also put all five of his kickoffs inside the Tampa Bay 5-yard line to help the 49ers win the battle of field position. Two of those kickoffs were pivotal in San Francisco assuming the upper hand after halftime. Nedney's kickoff to begin the second half sailed down to the 1, and Tampa Bay's Torrie Cox brought it out to the 22. The Bucs were forced to punt three plays later. After putting the Niners ahead 9-3 with his 41-yard field goal, Nedney sent the ensuing kickoff nine yards into the end zone for a touchback. That forced the Bucs to start their next drive at the 20, and four plays later, Chris Simms threw an interception that led to Nedney's fourth field goal.

Season to date: In one afternoon against the Bucs, Nedney bettered his previous season total of four field goals in San Francisco's first six games. He began the season 9-of-9 on field-goal attempts before missing his sixth and final attempt Sunday, a 39-yarder that sliced wide left with 43 seconds to play. Nedney now has scored all of San Francisco's points in three of the seven games the 49ers have played this season. His 32-yarder prevented a shutout in San Francisco's 42-3 loss to Philadelphia in September, and his 30-yarder did the same in a 28-3 loss to Indianapolis in October. Nedney also connected on a 47-yarder against Washington two weeks ago. His 15-point day against the Bucs vaulted Nedney into a tie for 15th place in NFC scoring with 39 points. He has made all 12 of his PAT attempts since joining the 49ers. His four touchbacks on kickoffs this season ranks Nedney sixth in the NFC and 12th in the NFL. He also has had two successful onside kicks this year.

Need to note: Nedney's five field goals led the 49ers to their first victory without scoring a touchdown since a 6-3 win over Tampa Bay in 1978. That win ended a nine-game San Francisco losing streak. This victory ended a five-game losing streak. It was the fewest points scored by the 49ers in a victory since their 13-3 win over Philadelphia in December of 2001. Nedney's 15 points match his career-high total achieved while he was kicking for the Denver Broncos in 2000, when he was 4-for-4 on field goals and 3-for-3 on PATs in a September game against Oakland. Sunday's game was the 20th time Nedney has scored 10 points or more in his 97-game NFL career.

Nedney says: "It's nice to get out there and do something. We were having some success moving the ball against these guys, and (the San Francisco offense) kept getting me in range, and I kept knocking them through and that was the difference. My supporting cast (on kickoffs) did a hell of a job all day and we trade field position with our opponents I think better than anybody in the league right now. We got as many points as we possibly could, which ended up being the difference, and it was a great thing to be a part of."

Coach Mike Nolan says: "Joe Nedney's performance was one thing that stood out to me. Four of those five (field goals) were over 40 yards. Had we got six, that would have been a 49ers record. But nonetheless, that was a great performance by Joe. He continues to kick off very well. We always have the element of surprise with Joe on kickoffs, so Joe's quite a weapon for us and he's continued to do an outstanding job for us all year."

Looking ahead: With San Francisco's offense continuing to struggle, particularly in the red zone, the 49ers figure to rely more on Nedney to score points as the season progresses. Nedney has displayed that he has range out to 50 yards and beyond, so whenever the Niners can get inside the 35-yard line of opponents, he is a good candidate to be called upon to put points on the scoreboard. Nedney has displayed that he can be the difference in a close game, so the 49ers won't hesitate to use him. His left leg should see increasing opportunities as San Francisco develops some stability and continuity on offense.

ALSO CONSIDERED: RB Kevan Barlow (101 yards rushing on 26 carries and two catches for 21 yards while leading 49ers in both rushing and receiving and finishing with 122 of team's 208 total offensive yards); DE Bryant Young (two sacks, one forced fumble, consistent pressure on passing downs, stout against run throughout game).

PREVIOUS NOTW LIST: Week 1: DE Bryant Young. Week 2: P Andy Lee. Week 3: WR Brandon Lloyd. Week 4: DE Bryant Young. Week 5: LB Jeff Ulbrich. Week 6: No selection (49ers bye week). Week 7: RB Frank Gore.


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