In recent weeks, there has been a lot of commotion around those few players on the 49ers roster associated with the special teams. Whether that is now former-49er punter Bradley Pinion signing a new deal with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, or current 49er kicker Robbie Gould not wanting to engage in contract talks with the club, or veteran long-snapper Kyle Nelson receiving a 10-game suspension (largest suspension in 49er history) for a PED violation. The special teams are a unit that normally doesn’t grab much attention from the media, but in recent weeks the 49ers unit has — which isn’t a good look for the club. Through the draft and through an undrafted signing, general manager John Lynch and head coach Kyle Shanahan are trying to quiet that perception with the media.
In the fourth round of the 2019 NFL Draft, the 49ers selected a punter out of Utah named Mitch Wishonowsky. Many experts and fans were very angry that the punter position was addressed too early (pick 110), but this upcoming season will prove the neigh-sayers wrong. Wishnowsky is a kickoff and holding specialist, as well as an amazing punter. He is an upgrade in not only skill, but price as well. Pinion, who was recently mentioned, signed a 4-year $11 million contract this offseason — which is a steep price for a punter. While newly-drafted Wishonowsky will save the 49ers a chunk of salary cap — making right around rookie minimum. It is an overall great decision from the front office to draft such a player.
Undrafted signings are also a huge part of the draft process. Many 49ers greats throughout the years have been undrafted players such as: Jeff Garcia, Joe Perry, and Matt Breida to name a few. The one I’m about to name is a man who hopes to remain anonymous through his tenure with the team, because that is what is in his job description. The man I am speaking of is undrafted free agent signee, Stephen F Austin’s long-snapper Chris Wilkerson. In his career, Wilkerson appeared in all 11 games as the Lumberjacks’ lone long-snapper for three consecutive seasons — and remained anonymous like just about all snappers hope to. While the 49ers already have a snapper on roster (Colin Holba) to replace the suspended Kyle Nelson, Wilkerson will likely compete for the job with Holba. However if all goes well in camp, he could even push Nelson out as well. Which will be in upgrade in productivity and price as well.
Although a resolution with kicker Robbie Gould have yet to come to fruition, it is good to see the men running the squad addressing the other needs within the unit that usually enjoys remaining anonymous. Look too see Wishnowsky and Wilkerson have a profound impact on the special team’s unit in camp and all the way into the season.