To say the 49ers did their homework on kickers leading up to the 2023 NFL Draft would be quite the understatement. According to special teams' coordinator Brian Schneider, the Niners evaluated 27 kickers, leaving no stone unturned before unanimously agreeing that Jake Moody was “the guy.”
Through a couple of OTA practices, Schneider said Moody has been “everything we thought he was. Really consistent. Really even-keeled, and exactly what we hoped he’d be.”
Schneider explained the team’s process and what they were specifically looking for in a kicker:
You go through the tape and then our guys do a great job. [General manager] John [Lynch] and all the scouts, they give you the rundown and so we’re starting kind of from square one. You look off the silent tape and you start to build your list and then you whittle that down and then ultimately you have to go work them out I think to see everything live and that’s the question you’re trying to get answered. And it starts with the consistency of what people say about them, so before I even meet them, everyone in our building that’s looked at them, I hear what they think, say and then when you go there to the schools, you listen to all the coaches, the weight coaches, any assistants, other players, you just try to find out and then ultimately you have to sit with them and just have get a feel for that.”
According to the beat reporters on hand, Moody had all four of his field goal attempts during Wednesday’s practice, connecting from 33, 38, 43, and 53. His competition, Zane Gonzalez, missed from 43, but hit his other attempts from 33, 38, and 48 yards.
Schneider highlighted one story during the draft process that helped him identify Moody was a perfect fit over everyone else:
Yeah, when I worked him out, there was no question what I thought about it. I wish I could have that type of workout every time you go because it just kind of naturally happened. In his pro workout, he kicked off sticks, in other words where there’s a stick there and he just kicks a ball and all kickers would like to do it that way. And I think he was 12 for 13 and he missed like a 58-yarder, so that’s exactly what kind of talent he is. I always try to get him a holder and a snapper and some guys can’t find a snapper, it just doesn’t work out, but I’ll take any snapper, I don’t care.
I want to see the operation of it all and I want to see him under, I think someone asked that question earlier, what is he like under stress? How does he respond? You can take all the information from all the coaches and you can try to see like the game that he missed three in ‘20, how he responded to that. He had great competition there that he was fighting with, so I still can’t figure out, like they’d go every three points, so he was going in and out.
So again, you try to look on how he responded to adversity there, but the workout was perfect for me. It was unbelievable, he had two snappers that were backup long snappers on Michigan’s team that were not very good. And he had his holder, so right off the bat, these balls are coming everywhere and he was doing great. The times were good, everything’s good. As it got going and the snappers were rotating, the balls were just atrocious coming back. And I loved it because I was looking at him, how he responded to everything and you could tell he was getting frustrated because then I’d move the snappers and I had him kick off sticks and his timing was off, so it was a really frustrating workout from his point of view.
Schneider is pulling no punches when discussing the backup players on the Wolverines.
The timing aspect is important. At the high school level, from the time the ball is snapped to the time the kicker has kicked the ball, we want it to be gone under 1.35 seconds. So, I imagine it’s even quicker at the professional level. These are all critical factors that those of us on the outside may take for granted.
I absolutely loved it because at the very end we backed up to a 55-yarder, bad snap and so he missed it and he thought that was the last kick and again, I’m just looking at him and he’s still stone-faced really cool disposition, so I go, okay, we have a last second field goal. I’m going to count, you have 12 seconds, I’m going to count it down and this is against Ohio State to win it.
They’re on the sidelines, they all run out, the worst snap of the day. It bounced twice way inside. I mean the holder barely got it down and Moody just like I’ve seen on tape, so consistent with his approach and finish and trust, smoked it, so I was like, that is a great way to finish it. And then his last two kickoffs, so we did that, he did six kickoffs after that. And again, he was frustrated like anyone would be in a job interview where some things are out of his control, so the last two kicks I said, okay, we’re going to kick left. I want it outside the numbers as close as you can to the goal line with the best hang time.
The first one, he put a yard outside the numbers right on the goal line 4.38 hang time, which is phenomenal. And then his second one was two yards outside the hash, right on the goal line with 4.38 hang time. Right there, all those questions you have of how does the guy respond to adversity? It just naturally happened at the workout and I was the only one there, so I was fired up. If a lot of people would’ve saw that, I think they would’ve saw what I saw and I trusted what I saw. That’s really what for me, out of everything, that was a final step where I was like, this guy’s the guy.”
It’s evident that Schneider is head over heels for Moody and was very, very high on the 49ers rookie kicker.