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.
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.