Zane Gonzalez trade doesn’t mean 49ers won’t draft a kicker

Carolina Panthers kicker Zane Gonzalez (5) Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Carolina Panthers kicker Zane Gonzalez (5) Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports /

The 49ers made a low-flying trade with the Panthers and grabbed Zane Gonzalez, but a kicker could still be in play for the Niners in the NFL Draft.

The San Francisco 49ers were in the market for a kicker heading into the 2023 offseason.

They could still be in the market for a kicker despite making yet another trade with the Carolina Panthers for veteran kicker Zane Gonzalez on Friday.

The Niners announced the trade, which was nothing more than a seventh-round pick swap in the 2025 NFL Draft. So, even if Gonzalez never cuts it with San Francisco in one regard or another, it’s not as if the 49ers are heavily invested in the move.

That’s an element The Athletic’s Matt Barrows pointed out not long after news of the transaction broke:

OK, so it’s not too likely the Niners would use one of their first three picks (all of which are in Round 3) of the 2023 NFL Draft on a kicker.

However, two things can be true in the wake of the Gonzalez pickup.

For starters, San Francisco’s time with veteran kicker Robbie Gould is all but over, and he won’t return to the franchise after publicly saying as much not long after the 49ers’ season came to a close.

Beyond that, though, Gonzalez doesn’t automatically guarantee the Niners’ search for a new kicker is over.

49ers have to worry about Zane Gonzalez injury history

Carolina likely would have released Gonzalez outright in the not-so-distant future, so at least the Panthers get a net positive in return, even if it’s a slightly earlier seventh-round draft pick.

San Francisco, meanwhile, gets a kicker who missed all of 2022 with a quad injury suffered during the preseason.

He dealt with a quad injury late in 2021, too.

Read More: Robbie Gould had his Niners’ swan-song year in 2022

Of course, Gonzalez must pass a physical for the trade to be official, and it’s not as if the 49ers are heavily invested. Make note of that point.

Additionally, the Niners still have 11 total picks in this year’s NFL Draft despite not selecting in Rounds 1 or 2. And, with few roster holes to fill, San Francisco can reach if it truly wants to, possibly to the point of grabbing a specialist early.

The 49ers could also simply just wait until undrafted free agency to see if there’s a kicker worth bringing in as the competition for Gonzalez during training camp.

In fact, given the veteran’s history, that’d probably be something to expect.

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