Kicking Competition Still Dead Even
June 6 2002
By Bryan Hersh of 49ers Paradise
The way things are going this off-season, the 49ers may have been mistaken when they drafted place kicker Jeff Chandler. Itís not that Chandler isnít holding up his end or bargain, looking every bit like a NFL kicker in practice, but rather its that the 49ers other two choices, Jose Cortez - who started last year, and Jamie Rheem - who spent last year injured are both looking excellent too.
The competition remains dead even. In the latest report, all three kickers hit five out of six attempts, with Cortez and Rheem nailing a sixty-yard attempt. It is really a dead lock at the position. The team knows what they can expect from Cortez, at least based on the beginning of last season, and Chandler is likely to get a pass into training camp, so its Rheem that has the most to prove.
Mariucci did state that there was a slight possibility that the team take three kickers into training camp, given the closeness of the race -but added that it wasnít likely. If the competition remains this tight, itís also possible, but unlikely that the 49ers carry two place kickers on their team. Given that they had a few extra roster spots last season, this could be another small possibility.
The competition may in fact come down to something other than field goals. The team may have to resort to kick offs to make a decision. The players being locked in such a tight race will at least assure that the team gets the best player for the position. But given the race being so tight, one really has to wonder if Chandler was worth a fourth round pick. Only time will tell, as we see our kicker, possibly Chandler win or lose games for us.