The 49ers did a relatively shocking thing during the draft last weekend, taking kicker Jake Moody in the third round with the No. 99 overall pick.
It’s the earliest a kicker has been drafted since 2016, when Roberto Aguayo was taken by Tampa Bay, and then flamed out after one season. Hitting on a kicker is difficult, and most of the kickers in the league are relatively interchangeable. For the move to be worth it, you have to land an elite player. The difficulty of doing so makes Matt Barrows of The Athletic against the notion of taking a kicker that early.
“I’m not team kicker in the third round,” Barrows told Papa & Lund on KNBR. “The 49ers had never drafted a kicker since I’ve been covering this team. I looked into it more deeply than ever. It was clear Jake Moody was the top guy, but it was also clear that there’s a real hesitance in the NFL to draft kickers early. Roberto Aguayo just made teams very, very gun shy about doing that.
“I went back and forth in my mind like ‘Alright, is this team going to draft a kicker? Is the third round too early? If they are going to draft Moody it’s got to be the third round, because all these other teams are going to come in. Once they feel in love with Moody and determined that Moody was their guy, they had to pick him there. There was no waiting until the fifth, because I heard the Lions, I heard the Pats were interested…There were half a dozen teams at least, looking to draft Jake Moody. That was the only opportunity that this team had to draft him.
“We’re going to learn real quick kduring the next eight months whether that was too early, whether teams can rely on a rookie kicker, all that great stuff. But the pressure is on this kid. He’s going to be scrutinized like no other rookie on the 49ers roster this year.”
Putting even more pressure on Moody is the fact that he’s replacing Robbie Gould, who has been one of the elite kickers in the NFL and was great for the 49ers since 2017. SF let Gould walk this offseason, and Moody now has big shoes to fill.
“Robbie Gould made kicks when you absolutely had to have them,” Barrows said. “He made kicks in high-pressure, difficult spots. In Green Bay at the end of that divisional game with a blizzard coming down all around him. Robbie Gould, you knew that he was gonna make it too. How often do you feel that confidence with a kicker in those high-pressure situations. Robbie Gould gave you that.
“That’s the only way you take a kicker in the third round is if you feel that he’s got that ultra confidence that he can make those kicks. I think the answer is yes that they feel that about Moody. Until we see him do that, I think that’s a question mark.”
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