49ers roster: Insanely early 53-man roster projection for 2023
49ers Specialists (3)
P Mitch Wishnowsky
LS Taybor Pepper
This one may come as a bit of a surprise.
The 49ers just traded for former Panthers’ kicker Zane Gonzalez, but you’ve got to dive deeper into that trade to see that the move doesn’t mean the 49ers won’t be adding a rookie kicker during the draft or soon thereafter.
San Francisco merely swapped picks with Carolina in 2025, which means the Panthers were going to release him anyway, but thought getting something, even if it was just a pick swap, for the kicker was better than nothing.
And while Gonzalez has been pretty accurate at times during his career, there’s been wild variation in his field-goal percentages, from the lowest of lows (64.3% on 14 attempts in 2018) to the deadly accurate (90.9% on 22 attempts in 2021). He also missed all of 2022 due to injury.
Furthermore, one of the issues the 49ers had with Robbie Gould was more about his touchback percentage and leg strength, not necessarily his field goal accuracy. Gonzalez has a career touchback percentage of 57.8%, while Gould had a 41.2% rate during his 49ers’ tenure.
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This means that Gonzalez’s role isn’t set in stone and it feels like the opportunity is there for a strong-legged rookie to come in and take the position away from the veteran.
The other two spots, punter Mitch Wishnowsky and long-snapper Taybor Pepper, shouldn’t have any questions heading into this offseason and beyond. Each is signed for the long term, with Wishnowsky locked in until 2026 and Pepper until 2025.
So there aren’t a lot of questions to ask about this 49ers roster, even at this point in the offseason. But that doesn’t mean there won’t be plenty to talk about in the weeks and months to come.