New NFL rule change makes 49ers drafting Jake Moody more questionable

Michigan placekicker Jake Moody (13)
Michigan placekicker Jake Moody (13) / Junfu Han / USA TODAY NETWORK

The league is adopting a certain kickoff rule that could cast more shade on the 49ers' NFL Draft selection of Jake Moody.

The San Francisco 49ers used a third-round pick in the 2023 NFL Draft on former Michigan kicker Jake Moody, which turned out to be quite the shocker.

Sure, the Niners could use a kicker after letting veteran Robbie Gould walk in NFL free agency and despite trading for former Carolina Panthers kicker Zane Gonzalez, who does have a bit of an injury history.

That said, San Francisco's selection of Moody at No. 99 overall was the definition of a luxury pick, even for a team that didn't have too many holes on its roster.

Moody needs to be a massive weapon for the 49ers from this point onward, and it can't just be in the field-goal and extra-point departments. No, Moody needs to be one of those X-factors on kickoffs, too.

NFL adopts new kickoff rule for 2023

From the NFL owners meetings, the NFL adopted a series of rule proposals that'lll go into effect this season. One of them, the "Brock Purdy Rule," allows teams to carry a third emergency quarterback on a gameday roster without having to use an active spot.

That, in light of San Francisco losing both of its quarterbacks to injuries in the NFC Championship game last season (including Purdy), which completely negated the game's competitiveness.

Another rule that passed is one that'll place the ball at the 25-yard line following a fair catch on kickoffs.

Here's the news from

"NFL owners voted on Tuesday to approve a resolution that allows players to fair catch on kickoffs with the resulting possession beginning at the team's own 25-yard line.

The new rule specifies that the fair catch off a free kick (safety or kickoff) must occur behind the team's 25-yard line in order for the ball to be placed at the 25.

The rule change will be for one year only, with the league citing "player safety" as a reason for its proposal."

Further reports state that every special teams coordinator rejected the rule unanimously, as it essentially means kickoffs that result in fair catches backed up toward the goal line will nevertheless result in a starting spot on the 25-yard line.

Should 49ers catch more heat from drafting Jake Moody now?

There's little doubting that the new rule doesn't make the Moody pick look any better. Even without the rule, Moody will have some awfully big shoes to fill in order to justify the selection.

Now that the rule will go live, it's one less area in which Moody can work toward paying off the investment the 49ers made.

However, as noted above in the press release, the rule is on a one-year "trial" basis and might not be adopted beyond the upcoming 2023 season. If the powers that be ultimately decide there's more competition in allowing kickoffs to play out however they be, including spotting the ball wherever a fair catch is made in the field of play, then the one-year attempt to see if this rule works out won't be a big deal.

And that might make Moody's selection a bit easier, too.

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