SANTA CLARA – The 49ers traded Friday night to secure the player who was chosen unanimously among all in the team’s renewal room.
Cheers erupted when the card that identified Penn State safety Ji’Ayir Brown as the 49ers third-round pick was handed with the 87th overall pick.
Then, 49ers General Manager John Lynch made a decision that was sure to be met with a lot of skepticism — inside and outside the organization.
San Francisco selected Michigan player Jake Moody with the 99th overall pick to replace trusted veteran Robbie Gould.
“There was no applause we got when we took Ji’Ayir Brown into our own room,” Lynch admitted. “But I think everyone knows it’s necessary. And everyone feels really good about this kid.”
The 49ers have selected a player in the NFL Draft earlier than any team since the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ ill-fated decision to use the 2016 59th pick over Robert Aguayo.
Moody will now be tasked with taking on the most accurate kicking job in 49ers history.
After six successful seasons with the 49ers, Gould stated prior to the start of free agency that he would not re-sign with the team.
Earlier this season, the 49ers traded veteran Zane Gonzalez for a conditional swap of seventh-round picks in 2025. Gonzalez, as it turns out, was just a placeholder.
It is now clear that Modi will be the man to take over Gold.
“I think you put a lot of effort into making the roster as competitive as we have it, and you’re going to be in a lot of close games and kickers are important,” said Lynch.
Scouting special teams coordinator Brian Schneider and the 49ers personnel department, Moody impressed the team’s decision makers and separated himself from the pool of other eligible kickers.
“We were lucky because we had three third-round picks, and we felt he deserved one,” Lynch said of Moody.
Although the 49ers also had a pick in the 101st spot, they decided to take Moody in the 99th because they didn’t want to risk one of the other teams needing to jump on them.
Before the 49ers picked a kicker, they made a much more popular selection with Brown picking. He is likely to be groomed to take over the starting duties of the 2024 season full time. Veteran Tashaun Gibson and All-Pro Talanoa Hovanga appear to have been named the starting secretaries for the 49ers this season.
The 49ers worked out a deal with the Minnesota Vikings to field picks in the third round (#102), fifth round (#164) and seventh round (#222) to move up to pick Brown.
“Steve Wilkes said, ‘That’s my friend over there,'” Lynch said of the 49ers’ new defensive coordinator.
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Brown intercepted 10 passes over his last two seasons at Penn State. He also added 4.5 sacks in his final college season.
“He’s a ballerina,” Lynch said of Brown. “I think he’s got the ingredients for what constitutes a Niner. He had a consensus from the coaches to the scouts and everyone around the block.
“He reinforced that with his tape, and then he came for a visit and he had an infectious personality. Everyone in the building wanted that guy.”
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