When the San Francisco 49ers decided to use the 99th overall pick in the 2023 NFL draft on Jake Moody, the kicker out of Michigan, it garners varied reactions from across the NFL world, none more interesting than that of head coach Kyle Shanahan, who was honestly surprised the pick wasn’t used on a different position entirly.
“Kyle Shanahan on the 49ers drafting a kicker in the third round: ‘I still can’t believe we didn’t take a running back,'” David Lombardi passed along on Twitter.
While Shanahan clearly found some humor in the situation, enjoying not only the prospects of securing a top-tier kicking prospect but the irony of drafting running back seemingly every year of the John Lynch era, others weren’t so kind, with Pro Football Focus calling the selection a below average pick before delivering a scathing rebuke of the decision-making.
“Moody produced PFF field goal grades of 90.2 and 91.7 in each of the past two seasons, so the idea that he’s the first kicker drafted makes sense,” PFF wrote. “But the third round is rich for any kicker in this class.”
Would the 49ers have been better off selecting a running back at pick 99? In the opinion of PFF, most definitely, as the highest-raked running back left on the board, DeWayne McBride out of UAB, was a staggering 219 spots higher on the PFF big board than Moody. Then again, Shanahan and John Lynch both had high praise for Moody’s selection, so maybe their board looked a bit different than the one used by PFF.
The 49ers Explain Their Kicker Draft Strategy
Discussing the 49ers’ decision to select the Moody at pick 99 in a more serious manner, Shanahan noted that, because the 49ers don’t have a fourth-round pick, they felt good about getting their guy at the end of the third.
“You think you’re looking at there’s probably five to six teams who you feel need a kicker,” Shanahan said on Sunday via 49ers Webzone. “So the whole debate is where to go get that guy, because it’s someone you need to get. And when you look at the history, the majority of kickers go in the fourth round. We didn’t have a fourth round pick. The guy was not going to be there in the fifth round.
“And when you look at pick 99, I know they call it the third round, but to me it’s seven picks after the third round ends, so I feel like it’s the start of the fourth round. So to me, that was the spot that we felt would be the spot to get them, but that’s why we were also nervous that someone could come up to 100 and take them. So very glad that we got him.”
Would some talent evaluators have preferred to see Moody picked eight picks later at the top of the fourth round instead of with a compensatory pick at the end of the third? Potentially so, but considering the 49ers didn’t have a pick again until the fifth round, it’s clear Shanahan and Lynch were happy to get their favorite kicker at 99 than select whoever fell to them at pick 155.
Jake Moody Has a Familiar Mentor in Robbie Gould
Talking to reporters in the lead-up to the draft, Moody discussed his relationship with former 49ers kicker Robbie Gould, who has become somewhat of a mentor to the former Michigan Wolverine thanks to their shared agent and central location in Big 10 country.
“I’m not sure if he just kind of felt the need to kind of pass the torch down to, like, a newer guy in the league or what,” Moody told the media. “But he’s been a really good mentor these past few months, and he’s been helping me out with a ton of stuff, whether it’s, like, combine stuff or preparing for the draft and all the workouts.”
Will Moody have a career on par with Gould, who has made a strong case for the Hall of Fame when his career comes to an end? Only time will tell, but having a mentor like Gould is an asset, especially as the Michigan kicker prepares for a camp battle with Zane Gonzalez, who the 49ers acquired from the Carolina Panthers for a conditional Day 3 pick swap in 2025.