49ers' Mitch Wishnowsky has deep repertoire of punts from Aussie rules days


49ers' Mitch Wishnowsky has deep repertoire of punts from Aussie rules days

Mitch Wishnowsky admits he could have been more consistent during the 49ers’ recently concluded offseason program.

The rookie punter, at his best, was very good and gave his teammates and coaches a reason to believe a fourth-round draft pick spent on a punter was a worthy investment.

The 49ers selected the native of Australia with the No. 110 overall selection. General manager John Lynch opted to fill the spot vacated when Bradley Pinion signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, rather than select a defensive back or an offensive lineman.

Wishnowsky has an assortment of different punts, which he picked up playing a sport in which punters are not considered specialists. Everyone must learn to punt, oftentimes while on the move, in the game Wishnowsky played back home.

“A lot of the punts you sort of learn growing up playing Australian rules football,” Wishnowsky said on the 49ers Insider Podcast. “There’s tradeoffs with every punt.”

Wishnowsky explained his different styles:

“The stock-standard end-over-end punt is a lot more accurate but you can’t get quite as much height or distance on it.

“The spiral, obviously, is the biggest ball. It goes the highest and the furthest.

“The helicopter punt is great, very hard to catch. You can’t kick it quite as far as the spiral. But if you slightly mishit it, it’s going the opposite direction that you want it to.”

Wishnowsky moved to California to punt on the Santa Barbara City College football team in 2014. He transferred to the University of Utah, where he won the 2016 Ray Guy Award and was the only three-time finalist in the history of the award.

The only downside of his final college season was three blocked punts, something he worked to eliminate during his offseason with the 49ers.

“I’ve got to get the ball off in 1.3 seconds, which is what I’ve been doing pretty consistently,” Wishnowsky said. “And the snap is a .7. So if the whole operation is 2 seconds or below, you should be good. Then, also launch point. You want to pretty much as it hits your foot (you’re) directly behind the snapper, so you’re not at risk of getting it blocked.”

[RELATED: Why No. 2 QB job between Beathard and Mullens is toss-up entering camp]

Wishnowsky also will be the 49ers’ holder and, likely, handle kickoff duties. He said he has yet to speak with veteran kicker Robbie Gould, who remains unsigned as the team’s franchise player. Gould has demanded a trade. The 49ers said they will not trade him.

In the meantime, Jonathan Brown, who spent the three previous offseasons with the Cincinnati Bengals and has not appeared in an NFL regular-season game, was the only kicker in Santa Clara.

“The last two years, I’ve been with Matt (Gay), who was drafted to Tampa Bay (in the fifth round),” Wishnowsky said. “I’ve been around great kickers, and Jon is up there. He’s phenomenal the way he contacts the ball. Jon is a very impressive kicker.”

49ers training camp questions: Which defensive linemen will play together?

49ers training camp questions: Which defensive linemen will play together?

Editor's Note: This is the second installment in a five-part series on the 49ers' key competitions during training camp. Today, defensive end.

Arik Armstead and Solomon Thomas are slated for similar roles this season.

Armstead, who is playing this season on the fifth-year option, and Thomas, a third-year pro, are viewed as defensive ends on base downs and interior pass-rushers in nickel situations.

There is enough playing time to go around for everyone on the 49ers' defensive line, but the priority will be set through competition beginning this week in training camp.

After all, Armstead and Thomas will also be going up against Dee Ford and rookie Nick Bosa for playing time when the 49ers deploy their base defense. Then, Armstead and Thomas will battle against each other for more snaps next to Pro Bowl defensive tackle DeForest Buckner in passing situations.

Armstead is entering his contract season. The 49ers are paying him $9 million for his fifth year in the NFL. Armstead's strength is his run defense, but the club also believes he has potential as a pass-rusher that can be unlocked in the team's new wide-9 alignment.

Armstead is coming off his best season, appearing in all 16 games with career-highs in tackles (48) and sacks (three).

The team believes Thomas is on track for a breakout season. He made little impact in his first two years after the 49ers selected him with the No. 3 overall pick of the 2017 draft. Thomas admits his on-field performance was impacted by trying to cope with the tragedy of his older sister's death by suicide last year.

Thomas appeared refocused and determined to make a contribution during the team's offseason program. But he will have to earn his way onto the field among the most talented group of defensive linemen the 49ers have assembled in a while.

Ford was the 49ers' biggest veteran acquisition in the offseason, coming from Kansas City in a trade for a second-round draft pick. Ford registered a career-best 13 sacks last season. Kansas City placed the franchise tag on Ford before working out the deal to send him to the 49ers.

Ford will unquestionably be in the field on pass-rush downs. But listed at 6-foot-2, 252 pounds, Ford could be targeted in the run game as a defensive end on base downs.

[RELATED: Training camp questions: Backup quarterback]

Bosa, the No. 2 overall pick in the draft, was universally regarded as the best edge rusher in the draft. His immense lower body strength also should enable him to set the edge in run defense. Depending on how quickly he adapts after sitting out the offseason program with a mild hamstring strain, Bosa could be used as a pass-rush specialist as a rookie.

Armstead, Thomas, Ford and Bosa will all see plenty of action through the course of the season. But the competition among this group will determine which combination -- along with Buckner -- takes the field when a game is on the line.

49ers sign NaVorro Bowman so he can formally retire with San Francisco

49ers sign NaVorro Bowman so he can formally retire with San Francisco

When NaVorro Bowman announced his retirement from the NFL last month, San Francisco was unable to allow him to formally retire as a member of the 49ers, since they would have had to open up a roster spot in order to do so.

Well, thanks to a new rule and the fact that San Francisco's top two draft selections have yet to sign their rookie contracts, the 49ers were able to rectify that matter Monday when they re-signed the four-time All-Pro linebacker.

While he still looks like he can play, Bowman and the 49ers have no illusions. They'll place him on the reserve/retired list in short order.

Selected in the third round of the 2010 NFL Draft, Bowman will continue a tradition of ceremonial retirements for 49ers greats, including Roger Craig and Jerry Rice.

[RELATED: Here are five bold predictions for 49ers' 2019 season]

San Francisco opens up training camp on Friday. Once Bowman is placed on the reserve/retired list, the 49ers will have enough open roster spots to fit both Nick Bosa and Deebo Samuel, once they sign their rookie contracts.