49ers general manager John Lynch has a thorough explanation for fans still moody over San Francisco’s selection of a third-round kicker.
By selecting Michigan’s Jake Moody at No. 99 overall, the Niners made him the earliest kicker selected since Robert Aguayo in 2016 and just the sixth kicker since the turn of the century to go in the top 100 of a draft. According to the GM, the club wouldn’t have had a chance if he waited any longer.
“I can tell you, since then, that a lot of teams have called and said, you know, shortly thereafter they were going there,” Lynch said Thursday on KNBR’s Murph & Mac show. “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.”
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Moody was considered a top kicking prospect in a class that ultimately saw three players drafted at the position. He won the Lou Groza Award as the nation’s top kicker in 2021 and led the FBS with 29 field goals made in 2022, graduating with an 82.1 field goal percentage and a school-record 355 points.
Beyond the threat of other teams jumping in front of them for the two-time Big Ten Conference Kicker of the Year, the 49ers also took into consideration their triple stack of picks in the round.
“We call it a third-round pick,” Lynch said. “Really a (compensatory) three, which we kind of see as fourth-round picks. And 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.”
Even through the Niners were flush with picks in the third, they had no first- or second-round capital to add flashier players before addressing special teams. But as Lynch referenced, they did acquire safety Ji’Ayir Brown and tight end Cameron Latu at picks No. 87 and 101, respectively, and it’s unlikely Moody would have lasted until their next selection, No. 155.
The dispersion of picks and the potential to move directly from All-Pro Robbie Gould to another trusted option ultimately made enough sense to commit.
“I think you know that if you’re taking a kicker that high, believe me, we weren’t doing cartwheels over it,” Lynch said. “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 ’em into the end zone when we need, kick ’em out of the end zone. We can hang it up there. I think he affords us the opportunity to do a lot of things.”
Moody will have the inside track in a competition with Zane Gonzalez, who the team traded for in March.
Should he manage the pressure of being a Day 2 pick and evolve into a longtime solution for San Francisco, Lynch’s decision will have been well worth it.
If not, the Niners could end up kicking themselves.
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