I had a chance to catch up with Florida Danny (Tuccitto) today as he was passing through DC after the Sloan Sports Analytics Conference, and naturally we talked about the kicker position for a little bit. The 49ers are reportedly going to release David Akers before free agency begins, setting up a need at the kicker position. The 49ers could elect to sign a veteran, draft a kicker or find an undrafted free agent. I suppose the team could work out a new deal with Akers, but if they release him I just don't see that happening.
My money is on drafting a kicker, but Danny and I hit on a topic that I had not really considered. The top two kickers in the draft played their ball in Florida, with Dustin Hopkins kicking for Florida State, and Caleb Sturgis kicking for Florida. Gainesville and Tallahassee may not have perfect weather, but the weather there is pretty solid during football season. They deal with the elements from time to time, but not quite as frequently as they would if they were kicking at Candlestick Park for half their games.
Given the swirling winds of Candlestick and the potential impact of early struggles on a rookie kicker's mental state, does the team consider veteran options before moving into their new stadium in 2014? The Santa Clara stadium is not too far from the water, but it would appear to be better blockaded against the kinds of wind gusts we see at Candlestick Park. Do you find a temporary option until the team has moved into their new stadium? Or does that simply not matter to you?
This might just be a sign that we've hit some offseason doldrums, but maybe there's something to it? If a rookie kicker comes in and can't tame the Candlestick winds, is there concern about the mental issues that can crop up with kickers?