49ers roster 2023: Don't expect Zane Gonzalez to play for San Francisco... at all

If the 49ers hadn't drafted Jake Moody in Round 3, veteran kicker Zane Gonzalez might have actually made the 53-man roster.
Carolina Panthers kicker Zane Gonzalez
Carolina Panthers kicker Zane Gonzalez / Scott Taetsch/GettyImages

The 49ers originally traded for kicker Zane Gonzalez to replace Robbie Gould, but the NFL Draft addition of Jake Moody changes everything.

It was almost a foregone conclusion the San Francisco 49ers would be on the hunt for a new kicker in 2023.

The veteran, Robbie Gould, was a free agent and had next to zero chance of wanting to re-sign, which left head coach Kyle Shanahan and general manager John Lynch in a bit of a bind.

So, what did they do? They engineered a trade with the Carolina Panthers for veteran kicker Zane Gonzalez.

The exchange involved a pick swap in Round 7 of the 2025 NFL Draft, so it's not like this would be a costly blunder if Gonzalez fails to pan out.

Given the Niners' subsequent transactions, that's probably going to be the case. A little over a month later, San Francisco used a third-round draft pick on Michigan kicker Jake Moody, which is a pretty good indication that Gonzalez isn't going to be a major factor in Lynch and Shanahan's long-term plans.

Why did the 49ers trade for Zane Gonzalez in the first place?

It's important to note the timeline here. The Gonzalez trade between the 49ers and Panthers took place in late March. Moody wasn't drafted until a month later, and the Niners had no clue whether or not they'd be able to get their hands on arguably the best placekicking prospect from this year's draft. Not until it actually happened at least.

In that regard, the 28-year-old Gonzalez was and still is an insurance policy.

Originally joining the league in 2017 with the Cleveland Browns, Gonzalez spent time with the Arizona Cardinals before heading to Carolina, now San Francisco.

He owns an 80.5 field-goal percentage over that span and is 94.8 percent on field-goal tries.

Had the 49ers not drafted Moody, Gonzalez would easily be the favorite to kick for the red and gold this season.

How much is Zane Gonzalez's contract with 49ers?

The Niners are carrying over the second half of Gonzalez's two-year deal he originally signed with Carolina.

According to Spotrac, San Francisco will owe Gonzalez up to $1.465 million this season but with zero in guaranteed money. He already got that from the Panthers, which means the 49ers can move on at any point without any lingering financial ramifications.

Will Zane Gonzalez make the 49ers' 53-man roster?

Teams don't carry two active kickers on a 53-man roster, which essentially means there's one spot available for either Gonzalez or Moody.

Considering what the Niners invested to get Moody, the only way he doesn't make the final cut is if he suffers some sort of injury or wholly flames out during training camp and into the preseason.

Read more: New NFL rule makes 49ers' drafting of Jake Moody more erroneous

From what we've seen thus far during offseason workouts, Moody and Gonzalez were fairly even in this competition, but that benefits Moody. Not Gonzalez. The latter would have to completely blow Moody out of the proverbial water to earn that spot.

Instead, Gonzalez will likely be shown the door by the time Week 1 of the regular season rolls around, meaning he'll never play a single meaningful game for San Francisco.

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