By Jerrell Richardson
Andy Lee, Punter, #4
Height: 6 ft 2 inches
Weight: 180 lbs
Hometown: Westminster, South Carolina
Experience: 8th year
The problem with being a punter is that you get no respect. Any highlight with a punter involved is usually them whiffing badly on a tackle attempt, doing something that makes you wonder how they made it to a professional level or sending a punt off the side of their foot for a 10 yard net. This is not the case for San Francisco’s Andy Lee, who has piled up awards and both team and league records. With multiple trips to the Pro Bowl, he has become a household name and respected NFL player.
Not Your Typical Punter
Those who say that punters are not real football players are not talking about Lee. Growing up in South Carolina he was a jack of all trades. He played baseball, and as a pitcher he went 12-2 in his final two years in high school leading his team to the district championship. On the basketball court he was an All-Conference selection, but of course he also made his mark on the football field. In addition to punting, he played both tight end and wide receiver and decided to go north to spend his college days at Pittsburgh.
Record Setting Collegiate Career
Lee wasted no time in college, grabbed the starting role as a true freshmen. He did not start immediately, but in his four-year stint was able to set the school records in both punts (244) and yards (10,353). He is the only player in the history of the Big East Conference to win Special Teams Player of the Year twice and he was a steal for the 49ers who nabbed the Pro Bowler in the 6th round with the 188th overall pick. As he did in college, Lee wasted no time showing that he was the man for the job and the rest is in the record books.
Starting Off On The Right Foot
As a rookie in 2004, Lee became the first punter since 1998 to finish the season with an average over 40 yards, as he wowed fans with his 48.3 average. His second year and third year stats were not quite the same, but still very solid and the team knew they had found their punter. The light came on in 2007 for Lee, and since then has been arguably the best punter in the game. He now owns just about every team record for a punter, and he has remained consistent while the team around him has continued to evolve. He is a Pro Bowl staple and last year he set an NFL record for net punting average. At the age of 30, at a position that has a long shelf life, Lee figures to be around for years to come.
Most Consistent 49er Over Time
Sure, Andy Lee is on a team that puts more attention of their punter then most, but that’s because his impact is undeniable. There have been countless times in which he pins the opponent down in their own 20, the defense forces a three-and-out, and viola, the 49ers offense has a short field. He has been just as big of a part of the team’s recent success as any other player. In fact, outside of running back Frank Gore, Andy Lee has been the most consistent player for San Francisco since he joined the team. When considering that Gore has missed time with injuries, it makes Andy Lee “Mr. 49er.” Therefore, any recognition he gets is well-earned and well-deserved, as Lee is not your typical punter — he is a football player.
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Jerrell Richardson is a Bay Area native who due to a college career at San Diego State University has grown an appreciation for all things sports related in California. His heart will always remain in San Francisco though where he currently resides and covers everything from the San Francisco 49ers and Giants to the San Jose Sharks and California Bears Baseball team. His work can be found on Examiner.com.