Cross-Bay rivalry makes this Pro Bowl a ‘special’ one

HONOLULU — 49ers punter Andy Lee put it best when he said, “There must be something in the water” in the Bay Area.

San Francisco 49ers kicker David Akers (left) and punter Andy Lee during practice. (Perry Knotts/NFL)

That’s the only explanation as to why, for likely the first time ever, the kicking units for the NFC and AFC each come from two teams from one area: 49ers and Raiders.

Lee is here with 49ers kicker David Akers and long snapper Brian Jennings.

“It’s awesome to be here with my guys and to have my long snapper here,” Lee said. “For Dave to have his long snapper here, so it’s his rhythm that he’s been used to all season, it’s a really unique thing to share this with those guys that you spent all season with.”

Raiders kicker Sebastian Janikowski, amazingly making his first Pro Bowl appearance in 12 seasons, is here with punter Shane Lechler and long snapper Jon Condo.

“It’s fun,” Lechler said. “We’re going to see if one of these golf courses can let us get a six-some out here because we’re going to go play, us against them, and put a little money on the line.”

Lee said he keeps up with his counterparts across the Bay, making this week’s experience even sweeter.

“I’m friends with them, Dave’s friends with them,” Lee said. “Of course, there’s competition in anything. You wouldn’t be playing this game if you didn’t want to be the best. Of course, there’s competition there, but it’s friendly competition.”

While offense and defense were on the field “banging helmets,” Lee spent the early part of Wednesday’s practice on the sideline with Akers and Jennings, playing catch with some kids. That led to the question: Is there a better gig than being a long snapper at the Pro Bowl.

“Yeah,” Lee said. “The punter.”

– Aron Angel

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