Jake Moody

Moody details injury progress as 49ers craft kicker contingency plan

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SANTA CLARA — Two weeks ago, Jake Moody was kicking on the 49ers’ practice field when he felt something out of the ordinary in his right quad.

“I wouldn’t say it happened with one kick, but there was one day it started acting up,” Moody said. “I caught it early and didn’t push anything too far. Luckily I did catch it early, so I’m not missing extended periods of time.”

Still, there remains enough question about whether Moody will be available for the 49ers’ 2023 NFL season opener on Sunday at the Pittsburgh Steelers that the team signed Matthew Wright to the practice squad.

Moody was seen swinging his leg Monday and booting smooth and controlled 33-yard field goals high into the net behind the goalposts.

“Yeah, just working back into it,” Moody said. “Nothing crazy. We’re not hitting any 70-yard field goals trying to blow my leg out. Just taking it one kick at a time and trying to make progress.”

Moody’s physical condition prevented him from appearing in the 49ers’ final preseason game. In the first two exhibition games, he made three of five field-goal attempts and was 1-for-2 on extra points.

The 49ers’ insurance policy was veteran Zane Gonzalez. But he sustained a season-ending calf injury in pregame warmups, leaving the 49ers without a kicker in the preseason finale.

If the 49ers are not facing enough challenges in their first game after moving on from Robbie Gould, the regular-season opener is in a venue that is historically difficult on kickers.

“It’s windy. Everybody knows it,” said Wright, who had brief stints with the Steelers in 2020 and ’22.

“The stadium gets used a lot, so the grass is sometimes a little tricky. Just got to do what you do and everything else will take care of itself.”

On Saturday, Pitt plays Cincinnati in a college game in the same stadium.

The unpredictable winds are generated off the nearby rivers. The stadium is located on the banks of the confluence where the Allegheny and Monongahela come together to form the Ohio River.

Both sides of the field offer its own challenges, Wright said.

“They’re both a little tricky with how it swirls in there, but if you hit the ball well, it should go in no matter what,” he said.

Wright, 27, has appeared in 23 NFL games with the Steelers, Jacksonville Jaguars and Kansas City Chiefs. He has experienced success, making 40 of 46 field-goal attempts (87 percent) and 35 of 37 extra points (94.6 percent). Still, he has been unable to latch on for an extended period with any team.

Wright is expected to make the trip to Pittsburgh, and the 49ers must decide by Saturday afternoon whether to elevate him from the practice squad to be available as a sub for Moody.

“There’s 32 jobs,” Wright said. “If those 32 are filled and everybody’s kicking well, that’s it. I just got to keep doing what I’m doing and hopefully something comes up like this, and I got to make sure I keep making my kicks.”

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