NFC Championship 2023 Comparisons: Special Teams

Kyle Terada, USA TODAY Sports

Leading up to the Eagles match-up with the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday, Sports Talk Philly and Eagledelphia will compare the personnel of the two teams each day until gameday is here.

In this edition of our week-long comparison, we will look at the running backs that the Eagles and 49ers will field on Sunday.

Philadelphia ST | Jake Elliott, Brett Kern, Boston Scott, Britain Covey, Rick Lovato

Philadelphia Eagles kicker Jake Elliott went 20-for-23 in field goal attempts during the regular season with a long of 56-yards.  Elliott also nailed 51-of-53 PAT’s for the Birds’ in 2022-23. The highlight of the season came in the Week 18 finale against the Giants where Elliott buried five field goals to put the Birds in the win column.  In fact, outside of the Chicago game, Elliott was his normal, nearly-automatic self.  

Brett Kern, who is entering his second month as the Birds’ punter, has been anything but spectacular.  The former All-Pro is averaging 40.8 yards per punt in his short tenure in Philadelphia.  That number is down nearly six-yards from his 2021-22 performance with Tennessee.  The injured Arryn Siposs was punting the ball at a 45.6 yard per punt clip before he went down in the Giants game. 

The Eagles return game has been anything but spectacular.  Boston Scott is averaging 27.1 yards per return on kickoffs and Britain Covey is averaging 9.3 yards per punt return.  Neither player has reached the end zone in the return game.  Any punt return where Covey doesn’t get obliterated is a small victory for the Eagles.

49er ST | Robbie Gould, Mitch Wishnowsky, Ray-Ray McCloud III, Taybor Pepper

Gould is one of the best to ever do it and continued that in his 18th season in the league. On the year, he has a long of 51 yards. He has made 50/51 extra point attempts as well as 27/32 field goal tries. He’s missed just one chip shot attempt in 2022, with his other misses coming from over 40 yards out.

Wishnowsky has a pretty poor average punt distance this season at 39.1, the worst mark of his career. That said, there is some reason to believe that that distance is limited by field position, as 32 of his 61 punts have pinned opponents within their 20-yard line (five were touchbacks).

McCloud typically handles bot punt and kick returns for San Francisco. He has not scored a touchdown in either area, but has seen more success in punt returning, where he averages over 10 yards per return (10.8). The kickoff returns have been sub-par, with McCloud averaging only 23 yards on such returns.


Elliott is the league leader in extra point attempts and makes with a long of 56 yards on field goals. Gould has simply kicked more field goals and maintained his make percentage well, though his long is just over 50 yards this season.

The Eagles would have had the clear advantage at punter with Arryn Siposs, but Brett Kern is about even with Wishnowsky. An argument that Wishnowsky had the potential to do better and has done well at pinning opponents probably grants him the lead there.

McCloud is a better punt returner than Britain Covey, but McCloud has fumbled the ball three times on the season, including in the Divisional Round. Covey has improved over the season and not fumbled since week five. When it comes to kick returns, Boston Scott is the better of the two.

Overall, each team has slight advantages over the other at punter and return with the kickers being about even, leaving this comparison at a draw.

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