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Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Kicker Jake Moody has been everything the 49ers hoped

May 31, 2023 at 3:31 PM--

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Veteran kicker Zane Gonzalez missed a field goal from 43 yards out during Wednesday's practice. Rookie kicker Jake Moody made all four of his attempts, including a 53-yarder.

Draft analysts criticized the San Francisco 49ers for using a third-round draft pick on a kicker. However, the 49ers are glad everything went exactly as they hoped.

Special teams coordinator Brian Schneider said the 49ers evaluated 27 kickers leading into the draft, finally landing on Moody as the top target. What have been the team's early impression of the former Michigan Wolverine during organized team activities (OTAs).

"Everything we thought he was," Schneider told reporters. "Just really consistent, really even keel and exactly what we hoped he'd be. ... just really consistent in everything he does, from his approach to his ball flight to his finish to just the way he is around here all day. So it's been fun having him."

The 49ers took everything into account while evaluating kickers. That included speaking to Moody's former coaches and teammates, those who had been around him.

Schneider has been impressed with his new kicker's efforts on kickoffs. The 49ers wanted to ensure that their kicker of the future could handle those duties as there were some struggles last season.

"He's extremely powerful," Schneider said. "He has great hang time. He has great distance. So all those factor in. You start with hang time, distance, and placement. Those are the really the three things, and he's exceptional in all of them."

Schneider admits that working out Moody privately confirmed everything he thought about the kicker. Moody's pro workout was less informative.

"In his pro workout, he kicked off sticks," Schneider shared. "In other words, where there's a stick there, and he just kicks the ball. All kickers would like to do it that way, and I think he was 12 of 13, and he missed a 58-yarder, so that's exactly what kind of talent he is.

"So I always try to get them a holder and a snapper ... I want to see the operation of it all, and I want to see him under [stress]. What is he like under stress? How does he respond?"

That's where the private workout came in. Schneider was able to evaluate Moody under some chaotic situations.

"So he had two snappers that were backup long snappers on Michigan's team that were not very good, and he had his holder," Schneider said. "So right off the bat, these balls are coming everywhere. And he was doing great. The times were good, everything was good.

"And so, as it got going, and the snappers were rotating, the balls were just atrocious coming back, and I loved it because I was looking at him, how he responded to everything, and you could tell he was getting frustrated. Because then I'd move the snappers, and I'd have him kick off sticks, and his timing was off.

"So it was a really frustrating workout from his point of view. I absolutely loved it because, at the very end, we backed up to a 55-yarder, bad snap, and so he missed it, and he thought that was the last kick. And again, I'm just looking at him, and he's still stone-faced, really cool disposition.

"So I go, 'Okay, we have a last-second field goal. You have 12 seconds. I'm going to count it down. This is against Ohio State to win it.' So they're on the sidelines. They all run out. The worst snap of the day, it bounced twice, way inside. I mean, the holder barely got it down, and Moody, just like I've seen on tape, so consistent with his approach and finish and trust, smoked it."

Moody was equally impressive in his kickoff attempts during the extensive workout. Of course, the 49ers coach tried to make those as difficult as possible too.

Said Schneider: "So right there, all those questions you have [about how does] a guy respond to adversity, it just naturally happened at the workout, and I was the only one there, so I was fired up."

That's when Schneider realized Moody was his guy. He relayed that information to head coach Kyle Shanahan and the 49ers' other decision-makers and knew it was up to them to figure out a way to make it happen—if they could.

"They asked me my opinion, and I tell [general manager] John [Lynch] and Kyle that, and then I let them handle it," Schneider said. "... After that, I told him, 'I don't care where you take him, this is the guy.' I felt that strongly about him. Again, that's not my job to figure out where we should draft him. I just know I really like the talent, I really love the kid, I love everything about him."

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