SANTA CLARA — Saturday wasn't the first time rookie punter Mitch Wishnowsky kicked in Levi's Stadium, but prior to the preseason opener he hadn't yet seen what the winds were capable of in person.
Wishnowsky reported having been on the field in Levi’s to practice punts and kickoffs during the offseason but noted that there was no wind at the time. During pregame warmups prior to facing off with the Cowboys, all of the flags around the stadium were moving significantly.
There was quite a bit of skepticism from 49ers fans when the organization drafted Wishnowsky in the fourth round of the 2019 NFL Draft. As information has spread about his hang time and accuracy during training camp, fans have started to change their opinion of the choice. In his preseason debut, the rookie might have won over a few more fans.
Wishnowsky fielded six punts for 297 yards with an average of 49.5 yards per punt. After returns, his net distance average was 42 yards. Wishnowsky’s longest kickoff of the game went 64 yards and nearly stopped before the end zone but rolled in for a touchback.
After the game, coach Kyle Shanahan expressed approval of his rookie punter but noted that his performance wasn’t perfect.
“From what I saw out there, I thought we punted very well,” Shanahan said. “I know that one kick, he hooked it left a little bit too far and got out of bounds. You don’t want to see that.”
The kickoff that Shanahan was referring to, even though it went out of bounds, did so at the one-yard line. Wishnowsky booted the ball 64 yards before it rolled out of play. His remaining two kickoffs went 60 and 65 yards and stayed in bounds.
While his first outing in Levi’s was predominantly successful, Shanahan couldn’t help himself from giving Wishnowsky a little bit of a hard time about the sleeve length of his jersey.
“Hopefully we can get him to hem up his sleeves a little bit. He looked awkward in a jersey. I’ll talk to [equipment manager] Jay Bird [Brunetti] about that. But, obviously, room to improve, but I like having him out there.”