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.”
#49ers practice note: Rookie punter Mitch Wishnowsky went 6-for-6 on plus-50 punts inside the 10-yard line, including two that were downed inside the 3-yard line.— Matt Maiocco (@MaioccoNBCS) May 29, 2019
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.”
#49ers Trent Taylor says punter Mitch Wishnowsky “has been filthy with it.”— Jennifer Lee Chan (@jenniferleechan) June 4, 2019
"He has some serious hang time. I feel like I’m sitting there waiting for it to come down for way too long. Then once you’re there for too long you start overthinking it. That’s what makes him good.”
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.”
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.”