49ers' Mitch Wishnowsky acknowledges he must adjust tackling style

49ers' Mitch Wishnowsky acknowledges he must adjust tackling style

SANTA CLARA -- Rookie Mitch Wishnowsky is tied for eighth on the 49ers with two special-teams tackles, but he would rather remain completely out of the action than relive his days of playing Australia rules football.

Wishnowksy, the 49ers' punter and kickoff specialist, found himself in the middle of things Sunday when he was penalized for lowering his head to initiate contact with Carolina Panthers return man Reggie Bonnafon.

“In Australian football, you’re not allowed to go for the legs or anything like that, so that goes against everything I sort of know.” Wishnowsky said. “He sort of lowered his head. I wasn’t trying to lead with my head or hurt him or anything like that, I felt it was really one of the only ways to stop him.”

Wishnowsky angled toward the sideline and then leveled Bonnafon with the hit. The left side of Wishnowsky's helmet made contact with the right side of Bonnafon’s helmet. Wishnowsky was penalized for lowering his helmet to initiate contact.

“I’m going to have to adjust, for sure,” Wishnowsky said. “That’s the first time where I’ve been in that situation he has nowhere to go. I feel like I didn’t have too much of an opportunity to do anything else. I’ll have to figure something out.”

Wishnowksy said he has not heard from the NFL about whether he will be fined for the hit. The league fines players $28,075 for impermissible use of the helmet.

“It’s a little annoying when they get out to the 38 and there were 15 yards on top of that, so that’s never good,” Wishnowsky said.

[RELATED: 49ers' key injured starters unlikely to play vs. Cardinals]

Bonnafon fielded the kickoff at the 3-yard line and returned it 35 yards. The Panthers took over at the 49ers' 47-yard line but generated no points from the second-quarter possession as San Francisco's defense forced a punt.

Wishnowsky, a fourth-round draft pick from Utah, ranks 12th in the league with a 42.2-yard net average.

Deebo Samuel pleas for 49ers to re-sign Emmanuel Sanders in free agency

Deebo Samuel pleas for 49ers to re-sign Emmanuel Sanders in free agency

Before the 49ers officially had lost Super Bowl LIV to the Kansas City Chiefs, tight end George Kittle was already preaching they would be back next year.

But it didn't stop with him.

49ers players throughout the roster already are thinking of everything they can do to make another run at it, and that includes bringing back free-agent receiver Emmanuel Sanders.

Fellow wideout Deebo Samuel made it clear Wednesday on Twitter that he wants to see the 49ers bring back the 32-year-old veteran.

After coming over from the Denver Broncos via trade in October, Sanders excelled with the 49ers. He caught 36 passes for 502 yards and three touchdowns in the regular season, and added five receptions for 71 yards in the postseason.

But Sanders could have been an even more critical part of 49ers lore, had it not been for Jimmy Garoppolo's overthrown pass with less than two minutes remaining in Super Bowl LIV. But it was not meant to be.

Sanders has been open about his love for the team that had just barely missed the championship and has spoken out about those second-guessing him due to his age. 

The receiver laughed at the fact that he has been "flying past 23-year-olds," and exhorted that he still has plenty of good years left in him.

[RELATED: Sanders offers advice to teammates playing in first Super Bowl]

He also embraced the youth the other wide receivers brought to the team, such as Samuel and Kendrick Bourne. Sanders loved the loose vibes of the 49ers' locker room and assisted the younger players in prepping for the big moments of the Super Bowl. 

Deebo surely noticed that and knows he wants his teammate back for the team's quest to make another Super Bowl run next season.

Jeff Wilson Jr. explains why 49ers' running backs are egoless, tight knit

Jeff Wilson Jr. explains why 49ers' running backs are egoless, tight knit

The 49ers found the perfect answer for a running back by committee approach in 2019. There wasn't one star in the rotation, yet they had the second-most rushing yards in the NFL with 2,305. 

They all have the same thing in common: At one point or another, each of San Francisco's running backs have been counted out. They all have an underdog's mentality. And yet, they're all extremely unselfish. 

"In our room, if you check our pasts, all of us have a similar background," 49ers running back Jeff Wilson Jr. said Wednesday morning to Steve Wyche on NFL Network's "NFL All Access." "We all come from an undrafted past where we had to take the back road. And all that helps us because we know what each other's going through. If one person's going through it, then one person's been through it.

"And for me, I'm just now entering into it. All those guys have been through the same similar situations, so we feed off each other. I feel like that alone has helped our bond to become stronger." 

Wilson went undrafted in the 2018 NFL Draft. Raheem Mostert, the 49ers' leading rusher, went undrafted in the 2015 draft. Same goes with Matt Breida in 2017. 

Tevin Coleman (third round in 2015) and Jerick McKinnon (third round in 2014) were the only running backs in the 49ers' film room who once were drafted. McKinnon has missed the last two seasons with knee injuries, but Wilson still mentioned him among the group. 

Wilson played in 10 regular-season games in 2019 and rushed for only 105 yards, however, he scored four rushing touchdowns, good for third on the team. He also scored one receiving touchdown, and had a 20-yard reception in the 49ers' Super Bowl LIV loss to the Kansas City Chiefs. 

[RELATED: 49ers have solid running backs, but group lacks something]

While Wilson is a part of a deep running back group, he's using a message from Mostert to stay motivated. Mostert took him to breakfast when Wilson first joined the 49ers and told his younger teammate, "It's gonna be a long road. You just gotta keep your head down and know what you're capable of on the inside and never let nobody deter you from that, and you'll be fine."

That seems to be the message throughout the 49ers' running backs. So far, the perseverance has paid off for this group.