NFL draft: Could Utah punter Mitch Wishnowsky be an option for 49ers? originally appeared on nbcsportsbayarea.com
The 49ers signed former Packers punter Justin Vogel to fill the void left by Bradley Pinion's departure but there could be another option available for the team in the draft: Utah's Aussie punter Mitch Wishnowsky.
In 2015, the 49ers selected Bradley Pinion in the fifth round as the 165th overall pick, after they moved on from Andy Lee. Nathan Chapman, Wishnowsky's Australian punting coach believes that his protege is good enough to go as high as the fifth round as well.
The 49ers only have six picks in the 2019 draft so the likelihood that they take a punter is low, but Wishnowsky could be worth a look. Chapman believes he has many of the qualities that coach Kyle Shanahan and general manager John Lynch look for in a player.
Injuries ended Chapman's own nine-year career as an Australian League fullback. When he decided to give the NFL a try as a punter, he had a stint with the Packers but never made it past training camp. In 2008 Chapman started Prokick, a training program to assist Australian Football League players transition to the NFL.
Chapman believes that if the knew then what he knows now, things would have been much different for him. He shares that knowledge with the young candidates in a year-long program that has punters training three days a week down under. Chapman worked with Wishnowsky helping him earn a roster spot as a Ute.
"He's an outstanding athlete," Chapman said of Wishnowsky. "He is composed under pressure and has all of the kicks a punter is now required to do. He has been one of the best at being able to place the ball inside the ten, so he is extremely accurate and his hang time is in the elite bracket.
"He just has a super all-around ability to get the ball where it needs to be."
Chapman has four graduates of his program already in the league, one in the NFC West. Michael Dickson hails from Australia and was drafted in the fifth round as the 149th over pick by Seattle.
Part of Prokicks' curriculum is a summer tour of colleges around the United States. This entails Chapman and a few chaperones traveling with 28 players in five vans caravanning from campus to campus. He not only builds relationships with the institutions but touches base with players he has already helped place in the States.
Chapman believes Wishnowsky is set to succeed in the NFL, not only for his on-field talents but for his off-field mentality as well.
"Off the field, Mitch is a workhorse," Chapman said. "Every time I went to the US he made it a priority to come and train, no matter where I was located. He's very low maintenance and is not driven by fame. He just wants to be the best he can."
Chapman says there might be only one thing Wishnowsky loves one thing more than football, and that's coffee.
"He drinks a lot of coffee," Chapman says. "He LOVES coffee."