49ers.com is assessing the team's roster as we get closer to the season. In the final installment of the 2023 roster breakdown series, we're taking a look at the team's specialists and how the unit has changed over the offseason.
The San Francisco 49ers specialists group saw a lot of action over the offseason. The team brought on two new kickers – six-year veteran Zane Gonzalez via free agency and Jake Moody via the 2023 NFL Draft – and signed long snapper Taybor Pepper to a three-year extension through the 2025 season. Earlier last season, the 49ers locked in punter Mitch Wishnowsky with a four-year extension through the 2026 season.
As Robbie Gould's four-year deal with the team was set to expire, the kicker position was a top priority for the 49ers entering 2023. With the team's second pick in this year's draft, San Francisco selected Moody, making him the first kicker to be drafted by the 49ers since 2002.
"We felt like we got the best kicker in the draft," head coach Kyle Shanahan said. "I can't say that I study kickers every year, but the people who do felt good about it."
The 2022 49ers specialists group included Wishnowsky, Pepper and Gould, a trio that had played together across three-consecutive seasons.
Gould recorded 27 field goals, converting on 84.4% of his 32 attempts in last year's regular season. The kicker also maintained perfect marks throughout his postseason career, making all 29 field goals and 39 extra points attempted in 16 playoff games.
Gonzalez was originally drafted by the Cleveland Browns in the sixth round (224th overall) of the 2017 NFL Draft. Throughout his six-year NFL career with the Browns (2017-18), Arizona Cardinals (2018-20) and Carolina Panthers (2021-22), he has connected on 91-of-113 field goal attempts (80.5 percent) and 127-of-134 extra point attempts (94.8 percent) for 400 total points. Prior to missing the 2022 season due to injury, Gonzalez appeared in 12 games during the 2021 season and connected on 20-of-22 field goal attempts (90.9 percent) and 22-of-23 extra point attempts (95.7 percent) for 82 total points.
A kicker out of the University of Michigan, Moody was the second of three third-round draft picks selected by the 49ers in this year's NFL Draft. He appeared in 60 games in five years (2018-22) at Michigan and converted 69-of-84 field goal attempts (82.1%) as well as all 148 of his PATs for 355 total points. Moody set Michigan records in games played (60) and points (355) and also earned Second-Team All-American honors and First-Team All-Big Ten honors following the 2022 season.
Pepper originally signed with the 49ers as a free agent in September of 2020. Over his three-year career in San Francisco, Pepper has appeared in 46 regular season games and six postseason contests and tallied two special teams tackles.
In 2022, Wishnowsky earned his second-career NFC Special Teams Player of the Month honor after his performance through the first three weeks of the season. That month, Wishnowsky punted 14 times for an average of 46.8 yards. Most notably, he placed a league-high six punts inside the 10 yard line at that time. Wishnowsky was named a Pro Bowl alternate following the 2021 and 2022 seasons.