In the third round of the NFL Draft, at pick No. 99, the San Francisco 49ers picked K Jake Moody. A kicker in the third round you say? “The best kicker in the Draft” they say. And they’re right, and not just because he went to Michigan (though, admittedly, the writer here is biased).
“[W]hen you put this much work into making your roster as competitive as we have, you’re going to be in a lot of close games and kickers matter,” said 49ers general manager John Lynch. “We knew that we’d be looking this year and our special teams coaches really got out and about and really studied this thing hard…When we felt like there was one who separated themselves from the rest, we became very convicted and we were fortunate to have three third round picks. We felt like he was worthy of one and we are happy to have done it.”
San Francisco has had as reliable a kicker as there is since 2017 in Robbie Gould. He made 87.5% of his field goal attempts while with the 49ers. He made 21 in the postseason, including the game-winner in Green Bay in January 2022.
“I’m so fired up,” Moody told the Bay Area media via Zoom after being drafted Friday night. “I’ve built a pretty good relationship with Robbie Gould actually these past few months, and he’s been telling me how great it is and he actually just texted me a few minutes ago saying how excited he is for me and telling me how great of a place it is.”
While at the University of Michigan, Moody was 65-of-74 from inside the 50-yard line. He made a 59-yard FG in the Wolverines’ Fiesta Bowl loss (shed a tear, or many) to TCU. He will also be able to kick off.
“He’s an extremely confident kid…” said Lynch. “The way he kicks, he’s an extremely aggressive kicker. All the things, we just became very convicted. Yeah, you have to look at history and study it…We felt it was worthy of the pick, so we’re convicted on it.”
Fun Facts: Moody was 12-of-12 in extra points and perfect in field goals against Ohio State the last two seasons. “Money Moody” is his nickname for a reason.
“…I don’t want to have to think about it, which I’ve been fortunate here for the last six years,” said 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan. “…We haven’t had to worry about that spot with how consistent [Gould has] been with making the field goals…I still can’t believe we didn’t take a running back [laughing], but it was a necessary need and if you’re going to do it, you better do it with the right one. We felt like we got the best kicker in the draft.”
While Lynch said he got “great pick” texts after the pick, Shanahan said, “Most of my friends made fun of me. They were trying to make me feel insecure about it but we don’t.”
Before taking Moody, the 49ers made a trade – no, not that one. They sent picks 102, 164 and 222 to the Minnesota Vikings in exchange for No. 87, with which they picked S Ji’Ayir Brown out of Penn State. In his last two seasons, Brown has 122 tackles and 10 interceptions.
“He’s a baller,” Lynch said. “I think he’s got the components of what I think makes up a Niner. We had a consensus, from coaches to scouts, it was all around the building. He really solidified that with this tape but then he came here on a 30 visit and he’s just got this infectious personality…[H]e plays fast. He’s good up towards the ball, ball production…He’s just a really good football player and then when you add the person, he’s a team captain, like [Defensive Coordinator] Steve Wilks said, ‘That’s my dude right there.’ Everybody in the building wanted that guy.”
Brown had a similar sentiment after visiting the 49ers earlier this month.
“I talked to everybody around the facility and it really felt like home,” Brown said. “It gave me a similar version to how Penn State felt, just a family-oriented environment. I had a great visit in San Francisco, and I knew from the time I left the visit that it was the best visit I had been on, and that’s where I belonged.”
With safety Tashaun Gipson back on a one-year deal, Brown should see a fair amount of time on special teams and compete to start alongside Talanoa Hufanga in 2024.
Last, but certainly not least, the 49ers ended their night by drafting TE Cameron Latu out of Alabama at No. 102. In his 26 starts for the Crimson Tide, Latu had 56 receptions or 787 yards and 12 touchdowns, including 30 for 377 yards and four touchdowns in 2022.
“He’s a versatile player in that he’s good in both the run and the pass, but he went to ‘Bama as a linebacker and I think he plays like that,” Lynch said. “He’s an aggressive player, he’s a competitive player when you’re watching film with him, his recall is really good. He grew on you from that standpoint. I know Kyle got to talk to [Texas head coach Steve Sarkisian] Sark over at Texas who had coached him right when he was transitioning over to the tight end position and got some information. We liked the skillset and we liked the mentality.”
And with that, they’re on to Day 3.