The 49ers traded down in Round 5 of the 2015 NFL draft and selected punter Bradley Pinion out of Clemson.
He is quite a reach for San Francisco in the fifth round and was the first specialist taken in the draft, per Christian Gin of Examiner.com. CBS Sports didn't even list him as a prospect worth a pick, which makes his selection a questionable one at best.
Clemson Football (h/t CBS Sports) highlighted some of his collegiate accolades over three seasons at Clemson:
Pinion averaged 42.6 yards per punt, fifth-best in the ACC, in 2014. He had 28 punts inside the 20 to lead the ACC and break his own school record for a season. He also had 17 punts of 50+ yards, tied for third-most in the ACC, and just two touchbacks. Pinion finished the 2014 season with a net punting average of 40.3, sixth-best in Tiger history and the second-best mark by a Tiger since 1984.
Pinion also led all Power Five punters with 33 fair catches in 2014, per Jeff Deeney of Pro Football Focus.
San Francisco already has a bona fide punter on its roster. Andy Lee has been with the franchise since 2004 and is the longest-tenured 49ers player under contract.
|Bradley Pinion's Collegiate Statistics|
Lee's current deal ends after the 2018 season. But with an average yearly salary of $3.4 million, it's feasible that general manager Trent Baalke is trying to get a cheaper option at this position.
Still, it will be hard for Pinion to replicate Lee's production over his career with San Francisco. Lee has averaged 46.2 yards per punt over his 11-year career. During that span, he was named to the Pro Bowl four times and was an All-Pro in three seasons (2007, 2011 and 2012).
Can Pinion match those accolades?
"I felt I was the best in this class," Pinion said on the team's official Twitter account. "That's the confidence I have in myself. I have high expectations for myself."
Perhaps Pinion reaches his own expectations and is able to successfully replace Lee at some point in the near future.
But a fifth-round selection for a player who likely could have been taken much later is quite the reach for Baalke and the 49ers' front office.
Follow him @PeterPanacy on Twitter.