The 2016 NFL Draft saw five specialists drafted, including one kicker, three punters, and a long snapper. That was the most specialists since the 2012 draft. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers surprised everybody when they traded up to draft kicker Roberto Aguayo in the second round. The remaining four specialists all went in the sixth and seventh rounds.
The San Francisco 49ers did not draft a specialists, a year removed from drafting Bradley Pinion in the fifth round. However, after the draft, they signed former Liberty kicker John Lunsford as an undrafted free agent. Lunsford tweeted out some video from when he got the call.
The highlight of Lunsford's college career might be this 60-yard game-tying field goal he kicked into the wind. However, his career numbers were not particularly consistent. His freshman year, he converted 8 of 12 field goals. He followed that up converting 8 of 19 his sophomore season. He had his best season the following year, converting 19 of 24 field goals, but closed out his career converting 13 of 24. He's clearly got a big leg, but accuracy is a problem.
Lunsford joins a roster that includes Phil Dawson and Corey Acosta. Dawson signed a one-year deal worth $3,134,000 that is fully guaranteed. The 49ers can certainly take the dead money hit if they cut him, but it seems unlikely. And if they did cut him, Acosta seems like the more logical option to replace Dawson. He was 4-of-4 last preseason, and was a little more consistent than Lunsford in college.
Scouting reports have suggested he could potentially be a kickoff and long field goal specialist, but with kickoffs bumped up five yards, and the new rule bringing touchbacks further out, shorter kicks might end being the choice for some special teams units. I think we see a new 49ers kicker in 2017, but for 2016, it is safe to say Dawson will be the guy.