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Thomas McGaughey Jr. Evaluates Bradley Pinion's Rookie Season

Ups and downs are the norm for any rookie season. Bradley Pinion's first NFL campaign has been no different.

The San Francisco 49ers selected the punter out of Clemson in the fifth round of this year's draft. Soon after, Pinion became the team's starter when the 49ers traded longtime punter Andy Lee to the Cleveland Browns.

Pinion also ended up assuming kick off duties by beating out Phil Dawson for the job.

It's on those kickoffs where Pinion's booming leg has shown up most so far. The rookie's 79.3 touchback percentage is third-best in the NFL behind only Baltimore Ravens kicker Justin Tucker (89.2 percent) and Indianapolis Colts punter Pat McAfee (87.1 percent).

The rookies' punts, however, have been somewhat inconsistent through seven games. Still, there have been many positives to take away from the start of Pinion's first season.

Pinion has punted the ball 35 times, just four shy of the most in the league, but he has only had one punt reach the end zone for a touchback. In addition, 11 of the rookie's punts have been downed inside the 20-yard line.

"He's doing well," McGaughey said. "He's a rookie. I didn't expect him to come in here and make the Pro Bowl his first year. He's going through his growing pains, and he's growing through it. He's doing a good job of coming in and being diligent everyday.

"He works hard at it. Some of the punts we've had, we can't have, and he knows that."

There's one area in particular in which McGaughey said is the toughest for young punters to master.

"Consistent ball-striking is something we're working on," McGaughey said. "He's working on that. He's getting better every week I think. The kid has a super strong leg. That's why we drafted him."

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