- Associated Press - Thursday, May 24, 2012

SANTA CLARA, CALIF. (AP) - Andy Lee has made every punt and held every field goal and extra-point attempt _ minus a few in the preseason _ for the San Francisco 49ers since 2004.

Now Lee and his booming leg will be a part of the 49ers even longer.

San Francisco signed the three-time All-Pro punter to a six-year contract extension Wednesday that will keep him keep him with the franchise through the 2018 season.

“Sometimes it’s underestimated probably,” 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh said of his punter. “Andy is one of those guys that wins games for our football team. And it’s great to see guys that play all the games, play all 16, 17, 18 games and help our football team win games, get rewarded with a new contract. So we’re all really excited and happy for Andy about that.”

Lee has been a major _ if not often overlooked _ asset since San Francisco drafted him in the sixth round in 2004.

The 29-year-old has played in 128 games for the 49ers and holds team records in punts (723), yards (33,069), gross average (45.7), net average (38.9) and punts downed inside the 20-yard line (209). Since 2007, Lee’s gross punting average (47.9) and net average (40.7) rank second in the NFL.

Lee also set the NFL single-season record last year in net punting average (44.0) and his gross average (50.9) ranked third in league history.

“They did a good job signing other guys to just keep this team intact so we can make a run at the Super Bowl,” Lee said. “It makes me feel really good and makes me feel respected by this team and organization.”

Lee always expresses appreciation for long snapper Brian Jennings and his fellow special-teamers for the success.

David Akers _ who set a single-season NFL record with 44 field goals last year_ made the All-Pro team. And special teams coach Brad Seely has been a big part of the unit’s success, too.

Lee, who was set to become a free agent after this season, was thrilled he’ll stay a part of the close-knit group beyond this year.

“I think it’s a great thing to know where I’m going to be and be able to plan our future and know my family is going to be financially secure with certain things,” he said. “It was a good thing to get worked out. I gave a little on my part, I think they gave a little bit on their part. It’s a good feeling for both sides.”

Terms of the deal were not immediately disclosed.


Follow Antonio Gonzalez at: www.twitter.com/agonzalezAP

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