© Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports
For the first time in the early negotiating period, a player from the 49ers’ 2018 squad has agreed to sign elsewhere.
Punter Bradley Pinion will reportedly sign a four-year deal with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, according to ESPN’s Dan Graziano. Teams can officially sign players starting Wednesday at 1 p.m.
PUNTER NEWS! Free-agent punter Bradley Pinion plans to leave the 49ers to sign a four-year deal with the Buccaneers, per source. Pinion was the Niners’ 5th-round pick in the 2015 draft and also handled kickoffs in San Francisco.
— Dan Graziano (@DanGrazianoESPN) March 12, 2019
The Buccaneers reportedly released punter Bryan Anger about seven minutes before agreeing to sign Pinion.
Previous reports indicated the 49ers wanted to re-sign Pinion, who entered unrestricted free agency this year. Pinion, San Francisco’s fifth-round pick in 2015, averaged 43.7 yards per punt (ranking 29th in the NFL) and landed 22 punts inside the 20 (tied for 19th) in 2018.
Pinion also handled kickoff and holding duties, which the 49ers will consider during their search for their next punter. More than 64 percent of Pinion’s kickoffs resulted in touchbacks, the 11th-best mark in the NFL.
Each member of the 49ers’ special-teams room has been impacted in free agency. The 49ers applied their franchise tag to kicker Robbie Gould. The team extended long snapper Kyle Nelson, who is suspended the first six games of the 2019 season, through the 2022 season.
And now, the 49ers have to fill a void at punter.