Football

Charlotte 49ers kicker Blake Brewer earns coach’s confidence

Charlotte 49ers kicker Blake Brewer has yet to face the crucible of attempting a field goal in the final seconds with a game on the line.

But 49ers coach Brad Lambert thinks Brewer accomplished something just as noteworthy in a 20-13 loss to Elon last week, when Brewer hit game-tying field goals of 26 and 43 yards in the second half.

“He’s a clutch guy and every time we ran him out there was a testament to that,” Lambert said. “It was a three-point game (for much) of the day. So he’s made big kicks for us, especially that night.”

Whatever the circumstance, Brewer, a sophomore from Concord, has been nearly perfect this season. His only miss in 10 tries came on a 24-yarder with six minutes left in a 40-28 victory over N.C. Central (had he made it, a frantic comeback by the Eagles likely would have been halted earlier than it was).

Brewer has also kicked a school-record 50-yarder against Campbell and has made 42 straight extra points stretching over two seasons. He’s also averaging 59.8 yards on 29 kickoffs, with five touchbacks.

“I’d like to make them all, but that’s not realistic,” said Brewer, who played at the Cannon School. “But I like to make them within my boundaries.”

Lambert said Brewer’s boundaries are any distance within 55 yards.

“I have no issue with that and I tell our team that,” Lambert said. “He’s really responded.”

Brewer spent much of his freshman season – also the 49ers’ first year of football – learning the college game. He had a solid, if not spectacular, year in 2013, making nine-of-15 field goals, his longest a 43-yarder against Gardner-Webb.

“I’m managing my (kicks) more, focusing more on form, rather than going out there and just kicking 100 balls at practice,” Brewer said. “That’s not necessarily going to make me better. Now it’s more that I’m trying to get everything I can out of each kick.”

Brewer grew up playing soccer, basketball and lacrosse and wasn’t planning on playing sports when he was a ninth-grader at Cannon School. But when former football coach Rod Rachal asked him to try kicking, Brewer gave it a shot.

“I think that playing soccer when I was younger rubbed off,” Brewer said. “”I had a pretty good baseline to start off versus somebody who hadn’t played at all.”

Brewer’s development accelerated when a friend of his, former Northwest Cabarrus kicker Bradley Pinion (now Clemson’s punter), recommended him to Dan Orner, a former NFL kicker who works with Charlotte-area high school kickers.

“I really started to enjoy kicking,” Brewer said. “Then I realized I had the potential to do a bit more with it than I first thought.”

That potential so far has landed him at Charlotte, where the 49ers will host Charleston Southern on Saturday.

“I don’t worry about Blake kicking off or with field goals,” Lambert said. “That’s a comforting thing for a coach. He’s not going to make them all; nobody does. But he’s right there if he doesn’t.”

• 49ers receiver Trent Bostick won’t play against Charleston Southern after suffering a concussion last week against Elon. H-back Richard Murphy has recovered from a concussion and will play against the Buccaneers.



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