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Of course 49ers voted against new NFL kickoff rule

The NFL on Tuesday voted to adopt a new rule for kickoffs that the league hopes will reduce injuries while also bringing kick returns back into the fore. For the last several years kickoffs have become a largely ceremonial process where the kicker blasts the kick out of the end zone. The new rules and kickoff formation will likely generate more returns, which makes it not surprising the 49ers were one of three teams to vote against it.

Under the new rules teams will kick off from their own 35 with 10 members of the kicking team lining up on their own 40. There’s a landing zone between the receiving team’s 20 and their goal line that the kick must reach. No fair catches are allowed, and touchbacks give the receiving team possession at their own 30. The kicking team won’t be able to cover the kick until the receiving team has caught the ball. There are a handful of other stipulations, but here is in general what it’s supposed to look like, as executed in the XFL:

According to MMQB’s Albert Breer, San Francisco was joined by Green Bay and Las Vegas in voting against the rule.

There are a handful of reasons the 49ers might’ve voted against the deal. Matt Barrows of the Athletic reported the team wanted to revisit the rule at the October league meetings after more health and safety evaluation was done. Barrows added that San Francisco was “leery of unintended consequences of such a big change.”

Typically we’ve seen the 49ers under head coach Kyle Shanahan do everything humanly possible to eliminate variance in the special teams aspect of the game. They messed around with short kickoffs to try and pin teams deep in their own territory, but by the end of the 2023 season kicker Jake Moody was launching kicks out of the end zone to remove the potential for a big kickoff return that flips field position.

By implementing the new rule the league will require a level of strategy on kickoffs that wasn’t in play before. Shanahan will have to dedicate at least some level of energy to kickoffs and kick returns that he didn’t before. While it shouldn’t have a dramatic impact on the offense or defense, it’s not surprising that the 49ers voted against it since it’ll require at least a little more thought from the head coach than kickoffs had previously required both in game and with how the roster will ultimately be constructed.

Story originally appeared on Niners Wire