The San Francisco 49ers surprised pretty much every fan on Saturday when they selected punter Bradley Pinion in the fifth round of the 2015 NFL Draft. The team has Andy Lee, but given his ever-increasing salary cap figure, the team would seem to clearly want to try and save some money at the position. Of course, they also get a guy with a booming leg. In his post-selection conference call, Pinion talked about his leg, including connecting on a 65-yard field goal recently.
Editor's note: The picture is not Pinion.
Were you expecting to go at a fifth round selection and to the 49ers?
"I didn't know what to expect to be honest with you. I'm really glad that the 49ers picked me up and I'm really excited to get out there and start my career there."
Bradley, are you a punter or a kicker?
"I'm a punter and kickoff specialist."
They've had P Andy Lee here for over a decade. Have you followed his career?
"Andy Lee is a very accomplished punter. He's done great for the past decade. It's just one of those things where everywhere you go there is going to be competition. I'm just looking to compete and trying to earn a spot."
Do you know Andy who also is from South Carolina?
"I actually don't know Andy. I know he lives actually here locally, but I've never met him personally. From what I hear, he's a great guy and I look forward actually learning from him because he is a seasoned veteran and there's always room to improve."
What did the 49ers tell you just about that competition?
"They told me it's going to be an open competition. Nothing's given to anybody. I'm confident in my abilities. But, like y'all said, Andy's been in the league a long time and he's a great punter. There's a reason he's been in the league for almost 10 years. They said it's an open competition and let the best person win."
Bradley, what makes you an NFL caliber punter?
"I think my ability to control the ball, my ability to put the ball inside the 20. Something I did very well in college and in high school. And also, I think my kickoffs really put me apart as well. Not only punt, but I can kick the ball off out the back of the end zone. It's one of those things, you get two-for-one."
Did you get the impression that the 49ers were really interested in your kickoff ability as well as your punting?
"Yes, sir. I think they're interested in the whole entire package. It's one of those things where you never know until you get there, of course. But it's one of those things where I'm ready and willing to do whatever they need me to do."
And did you have much contact with them recently?
"Recently, yeah. I talked to them a good bit. They came and worked me out. That was very good. Since then, it's just been kind of a wait and see game. See what happens in the draft."
What are the key differences if there are any between the kicking balls you use in college and what you've been working with this offseason, as far as the NFL balls?
"NFL balls are bigger, I believe. A little more meat to them. The sweet spot's a little smaller. But, I personally like the NFL balls better. I have bigger hands, so they fit better in my hand. A ball is a ball. You can give me any ball and I'm ready to go compete."
So who came and worked you out? Was it Special Teams Coach Thomas McGaughey?
Anyone else from the staff go out there to work with you?
"No sir they did not."
Given the fact that they do have Andy Lee, he ranks fifth all-time in career punting. Were the 49ers one of the maybe last teams you thought might be calling you today?
"I didn't have any expectations set really. I was just going to, I really just wanted a chance to compete and have a chance to play and really just have a chance to show the NFL what I can do. Whatever team wanted to take me I was going to go in with my head high and clear and compete against whoever it might be."
Are you the first punter or kicker selected in this Draft that you know of?
"Yes sir I was."
Is that something that you were shooting for? Is that something that had been a goal of yours coming into this?
"Yes it was. I don't know if you all knew I actually came out as a junior. So, I actually forwent my senior season and this is one of the reasons I did it. I felt as if I was the best in this class. That's the confidence that I have about myself and I guess it showed in the Draft. I don't know if you could say that. It's one of those things where I had a high expectation of myself and I wanted to go as the first punter but I knew realistically some other team could take another guy. So, you never know."
At 6-5, 229, you're obviously big for a punter. When's the last time you played a position other than that in organized football?
"I actually never played a position other than punter and kicker in organized football. I've always been a punter or a kicker."
Have you been used for long field goals as well?
"Yes sir. I have. I kicked field goals in high school and then I was the backup and long field goal guy at Clemson."
And what's your range as a kicker?
"Just the other day I actually hit a 65-yard field goal."