When the Ravens and San Francisco 49ers meet in Super XLVII on Feb. 3, Sam Koch will get a chance to match his punting skills with one of the top punters in the NFL.
Andy Lee is a three-time Pro Bowler who ranks first in 49ers history in punts (790), yards (36,295), gross average (45.9 yards) and net average (39.2). In the regular season, he led the NFL with a 43.2 net average and ranked third with 36 punts inside the 20-yard line.
Koch, no wallflower himself with a career-high and franchise-record 47.1-yard gross average and a career-best 40.8-yard net average, has admired Lee’s accomplishments from a distance.
“He’s done great in the past nine years,” Koch said. “He’s had a great year. He’s a great punter, and he’s a great guy, to boot. We played him last year during the Thanksgiving game. It was a fun game just because we both got to battle it out and I think we both had quite a few punts in that game.”
In that 16-6 victory for the Ravens, Lee outkicked Koch, posting a gross average of 57.6 and a net average of 48.0 on five punts compared to Koch’s respective numbers of 42.5 and 37.5 on four kicks. But Koch landed two punts inside San Francisco’s 20, while Lee did the same to the Ravens just once.
With both defenses stingy about surrendering yards and first downs to opposing offenses, Koch and Lee may get their fair share of opportunities in the Super Bowl. If that happens, Koch admitted that he may begin to feel his competitive juices flowing in a minor contest of “whatever you can do, I can do better” with Lee.
“When you go into a game and you punt twice, in a way you get to compete, but you’re more or less helping the team out,” Koch said. “When you go out there and punt seven or eight times, I don’t like to do it because you’d rather see your quarterback out there, but at that point, it becomes competition against that punter because if you have to punt that many times, you’ve got to be able to flip that field and pin them back and make sure that our defense has a lot of green behind them because if they have that, there’s a good chance they’re going to be stopping them.”