Whenever an outside observer evaluates the San Francisco 49ers‘ 2023 draft class, one decision always rises above the rest as a point of conversation: drafting Jake Moody at pick 99. Fortunately, general manager John Lynch was asked about this very decision on KNBR’s “Murph & Mac show” and provided fans of the red, white, and gold with some insight into why the Niners felt comfortable pulling the trigger at pick 99.
“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 on May 4. “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.”
While adding a kicker wasn’t too surprising, as the 49ers did bring in kickers for top-30 visits before the draft, the decision to select one in the third round remains fairly polarizing, even among pro-Lynch fans. Still, in the opinion of Lynch, fans should really think about the pick more as a fourth-round pick, as that’s how the 49ers view compensatory selections.
“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.”
If other teams really were trying to trade up in front of the 49ers to select Moody, then making the pick at 99 really might have been necessary if he was “Lynch’s guy,” as the New England Patriots drafted Chad Ryland, the Maryland kicker, with the 10th pick in the fourth round at pick 112.
Jake Moody Is Excited to Join the 49ers
Talking with reporters after being picked 99th overall in the 2023 NFL draft, Moody was asked how it felt to go from one team vying for a National Championship to a team consistently in the Super Bowl conversation under Kyle Shanahan.
“I’m so fired up. I’ve built a pretty good relationship with [former 49ers K] Robbie Gould actually these past few months, and he’s been telling me how great it is,” Moody said via 49ers Webzone. “He actually just texted me a few minutes ago saying how excited he is for me and telling me how great of a place it is. [P] Mitch [Wishnowsky] and [LS] Taybor [Pepper], they’re great guys that I’m going to get to work with. I’m so fired up.”
Though Moody isn’t a lock to start for the 49ers in 2023, as he has to first beat out Zane Gonzalez for the top spot on the depth chart, after surrendering a third-round pick for his services, fans would have to assume the Michigan product has the inside track to replace his good friend Gould.
John Lynch Believes Jake Moody Can Be a Strategy Changer
Discussing the strategic thinking behind drafting Moody further, Lynch declared that, while the 49ers weren’t “doing cartwheels” to draft a kicker in the third round, his presence could provide an upgrade over Gould in one specific area.
“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.”
Since joining the 49ers in 2017, Gould only attempted 20 kicks of 50 yards or longer during the regular season – going 13-20 from that range – and four attempts from 50-plus in the postseason. If Moody makes attempting field goals from 50-plus a more frequent occurrence in Shanahan’s offensive strategy, his selection could truly change the team’s weekly game plan in a positive way.