When the San Francisco 49ers drafted P Bradley Pinion in the fifth-round (No. 165) of the 2015 NFL Draft, many Forever Faithful had questioned the pick. The team already had reliable 11-year veteran P Andy Lee on the roster, and considering he was the longest tenured player on the team, it was assumed his position was all but a lock once again in 2015.
However, that did not happen as 49ers GM Trent Baalke made the bold move to trade the four-time All-Pro to the Cleveland Browns in exchange for a 2017 seventh-round pick.
Now, that Lee is off to Cleveland that opens the door for Pinion to now stake his claim and show the Forever Faithful why they drafted him in the first place.
Baalke went against conventional wisdom when he selected Pinion. Rarely do NFL teams use a draft pick on a kicker or punter as they are usually picked up as an undrafted rookie free-agent. But Baalke saw value in the fifth-round and as a result selected the Clemson product regardless of having a three-time Pro Bowl punter already on the roster.
When asked why the team drafted Pinion, Baalke remained calm, cool and collected. “He does a nice job controlling the ball, pinning it inside the 20. He’s been real effective. He’s shown the ability to kick off as well, which is always an asset. At the same time, Andy has been here for a long time and he’s a heck of a punter. We expect him to come in and continue to compete (with Andy Lee). It’s not Bradley’s job, it’s Andy’s job. It’s Brad’s job to come in and win that job.”
So what should the Forever Faithful expect from Pinion? Well considering he has a strong leg with the directional punting skills to match, I believe that Pinion will have a stellar rookie season.
In 2014, Pinion established great hang time on his punts, as he averaged 4.1 seconds all while booming a 42.6 yard punt average while at Clemson. Something that should not go unnoticed as Pinion has the desired NFL punting distance to hang time, it’s no wonder Baalke took a chance on him.
Baalke loves drafting players with versatility, so the fact that Pinion can also double as a kickoff specialist was something that Baalke felt was too good to pass up.
With the 49ers gearing up for training camp later this month, it will be interesting to see how Pinion fares, as he will be under the spotlight as the sole man responsible for the team’s field position in 2015.