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Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

John Lynch explains the 49ers’ thinking behind drafting Jake Moody in the 3rd round

May 4, 2023 at 11:02 AM--

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It was a decision that made draft evaluators scratch their heads. With their second pick in the 2023 NFL Draft, a third-round selection, the San Francisco 49ers added a kicker, Jake Moody of Michigan.

The 49ers needed a kicker. Veteran Robbie Gould wasn't returning—at least, not at a more reasonable price. They probably would have preferred to select Moody in the fourth round but didn't own a fourth-round pick. So with the No. 99 overall pick, San Francisco acquired Gould's replacement.

"I think, first of all, you just do what you think is in the best interest of the organization," general manager John Lynch said Thursday on KNBR's Murph & Mac show, defending the selection. "And what I do know is, since we've arrived here, we've been blessed with a really good kicker in Robbie Gould. And I think things have kind of run their course with Robbie, and we decided it was time to move on. Robbie decided it was time to move on.

"And so then you go out and say, 'Okay, we've got big shoes to fill.' And you look at every viable option to get a kicker. You saw we traded for one prior to the draft, a kid named Zane Gonzalez, who's been a legit NFL kicker. But we did all our due diligence with the draft, with trade options, and where we arrived at is that Jake Moody was what we thought, the number one target out there."

The 49ers conducted a private workout with Moody and other kickers, trying to be stealthy about their interest in the former Wolverine. They knew there were a lot of teams looking at kickers this offseason, more so than any other year, Lynch believes.

"A lot of teams needed a kicker, and there were kind of two or three that were viable options in the draft," Lynch continued. "There were a couple available via trade. But again, we kept coming back to we felt like Jake Moody in his talent and then his makeup, his mental makeup, which is very important at that position, was the guy that we were most interested in.

"And then you start saying, 'Okay, where can we get this guy? Where do we need to get this guy?'"

The 49ers decided the move needed to be made with their second of three third-round picks, which came at the end of the round.

"We felt like that was a really good value," Lynch noted. "We had three of them there. I think that gave us a little luxury to come away with two players that we coveted at positions, offense and defense, and then to be able to add a kicker. It was a luxury we had that maybe everybody else didn't have.

"And I can also tell you, since then, that a lot of teams have called and said shortly thereafter they were going there. And in fact, teams tried to trade up to get in front of us. So something we feel really good about. Time will tell, as it will with all these guys. But we think he has the makings of a really cornerstone foundational type player for years to come for us, and we're proud to have him a part of us."

What about the criticisms of using the selection on Moody when the team had other needs, like the offensive line? The 49ers didn't end up using a single pick on an offensive lineman, and tackle Blake Freeland, who many saw as a good fit, went off the board seven picks later.

Moody is just the fifth kicker drafted in the first three rounds since 2000.

"I think you know that if you're taking a kicker that high, believe me, we weren't doing cartwheels over it," Lynch admits. "But I think we'll be doing cartwheels if he's the guy we think he is because kickers are really important. They score a lot of points. They finish a lot of drives.

"I think this guy will give us an opportunity to extend where we've been able to kick from. I think we'll be able to kick the 55-plus yarders now. I think on the kickoffs, this is a guy who can put them into the end zone when we need to kick them out of the end zone. We can hang it up there.

"I think he affords us the opportunity to do a lot of things. So, yes, you're aware of the history, but it's just you do your best to assess, 'Okay, where do we need to go to take this guy if indeed we believe this guy is the best guy for us.' And that's where we went. And as I said before, really happy to have Jake a part of our program."

You can listen to the entire conversation with Lynch below.

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