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49ers working out top kickers in draft, per report

Rohan Chakravarthi
Apr 5, 2023 at 4:50 PM--

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The San Francisco 49ers faced a serious change at a position of strength when kicker Robbie Gould announced his intentions to play elsewhere in 2023, per ESPN's Adam Schefter.

As a result, the 49ers were in search of a kicker for the first time in the Kyle Shanahan era, as Gould arrived in 2017 when he posted career numbers.

Then, San Francisco made a move in the kicker market, trading a 2025 conditional seventh-round pick to the Carolina Panthers for kicker Zane Gonzalez, potentially finding their solution for the upcoming season.

However, general manager John Lynch acknowledged the 49ers' interest in kickers at the NFL combine, and the team could still look to select one of the top players at the position when the 2023 NFL Draft begins at the end of the month.

The Athletic's Matt Barrows provided some insight into the 49ers' continued search for their next kicker, reporting Wednesday that the team had worked out each of the top kickers in the draft.

"The 49ers worked out both [Michigan kicker Jake Moody and Maryland kicker Chad Ryland] last month, according to the agency that represents them. Special teams coordinator Brian Schneider also conducted a workout on March 13 with Auburn kicker Anders Carlson, the younger brother of Raiders kicker Daniel Carlson and someone who could be a late-round pick later this month," Barrows wrote.

According to Barrows, experts believe that the run on kickers will begin in the fourth or fifth round, with Moody projected to be the first selected of the bunch.

"Kornblue and several other kicking experts consulted for this story said the first kicker in this year's draft, which most expect will be Michigan's Jake Moody, probably will be taken in the fourth or fifth round," said Barrows.

What're the 49ers looking for with their kicker search?

It appears they're heavily valuing the kickoff aspect, as each of the three prospects, as well as recent acquisition Zane Gonzalez, are good in that field, which had been an issue with both Robbie Gould and Mitch Wishnowsky.

"A common denominator among the three is that they're good at kickoffs, with Carlson's workout kicks landing as far as 9 yards into the end zone. The 49ers, meanwhile, struggled with kickoffs over the past two seasons. Punter Mitch Wishnowsky handled the job in 2021, but he wasn't good at it and it seemed to affect his punting. Last season, kickoffs went to Robbie Gould, who had the role full time for the first time since 2016. The 49ers ranked 28th in the league in touchback rate in each of the past two seasons," said Barrows.

The 49ers may not be confined to selecting a kicker, as there should be available options in undrafted free agency, which could provide them with a young, potent option to challenge Gonzalez for the starting job.

Gonzalez's spot isn't guaranteed at the moment, as the 49ers owe him zero guaranteed money on his $1.465 million cap hit for 2023, meaning they can move on without any financial implications.

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