Yes, it was a reach for the 49ers to take Utah punter Mitch Wishnowsky in Round 4 of the NFL Draft.
Yes, there are parts of the move which made sense at the time. But to say Wishnowsky has fully justified the mid-round selection, or even being drafted at all, is a slight reach.
Wishnowsky finished the regular season with an average punt distance of 44.9 yards, which was tied for 22nd among all qualifiers. Granted, average punt length doesn’t tell everything, as a team’s ability to have longer drives ultimately means less opportunities for booming punts. And San Francisco averaged offensive starts on its own 32.1-yard line, which was second best in the league.
Instead, though, one can look at hang time, which is arguably more valuable than distance and can be looked at by the number of fair catches returners have. In this area, Wishnowsky was purely average, forcing just 13 such returns, which was 29th in this particular category.
And 23 of his 52 punts landed within the opposing 20-yard line, which is less than 50 percent.
Again, grading punters can be a bit silly. A kickoff gaffe in Week 17 hurt him, too, although Wishnowsky’s tackling abilities help negate that.