NEW ORLEANS — For much of 2012, San Francisco punter Andy Lee kept one eye on his counterpart with the Saints, Thomas Morstead.
Lee had set the NFL record for net punting average in 2011 at 43.99 yards per kick and Morstead was taking dead aim at it.
When the Saints hosted the 49ers on Nov. 25, Lee had a simple message for Morstead.
“When we played here earlier, I told him, if you break it, break it by like .1 or .2 yards,” Lee said
“Come on, don’t kill it.”Turns out, he didn’t have to worry.
After being on pace to break the record through 16 weeks, Morstead’s final game dropped his net average from 44.4 yards per punt to 43.2. While that was good enough to get into the record books, it was only the third-best average ever.
“I’m not going to be mad,” Lee said. “But you don’t want it to be broken. It’s a cool thing but yeah, I was a little worried about it.”
Lee will get a chance on Sunday to punt where Morstead makes his money. His 49ers are on the brink of an NFL title, playing Baltimore in Super Bowl XLVII at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
If you don’t think Lee hasn’t considered Morstead’s advantage, you don’t know San Francisco’s punter. When asked about Morstead having eight games in a dome, Lee quickly interjected, “Nine. They play at Atlanta.”
“I’m not going to say anything,” Lee said. “I can play at Candlestick – and it’s not a very good place to punt; it’s very windy – but I can play there with no wind. Maybe one day I’ll get to play there eight games with no wind.”
Still, Lee admires Morstead, saying at one point he has no beef with New Orleans’ punter. Ultimately, Lee said what’s great about Morstead is it doesn’t matter where he’s kicking.
“He does a great job,” Lee said. “And he does a great job when he goes outdoors. It’s not like he punts great here and punts horrible outside. There are some guys that are like that and he’s not one of those. He’s definitely deserving of all the awards he has gotten.”