Mitch Wishnowsky

Wishnowsky explains why he went off script for fake punt in 49ers' win

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SANTA CLARA — The most unique play of the 49ers' 28-16 win over the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday at Levi's Stadium was a punt attempt that, well, never was.

Early in the third quarter, the 49ers faced a fourth-and-12 situation from their own 41-yard line and the punt unit took the field. After Taybor Pepper snapped the ball to Mitch Wishnowsky, the punter looked at the coverage, tucked the ball and ran 30 yards up the right sideline. 

“I winged it,” Wishnowsky admitted after the game. “I sort of looked and saw that the whole rush team had crushed down on the protection, and it was open, so I just ran.”

Not only did the Australian kicker take the ball deep into Seahawks territory, but Wishnowsky also took a vicious blow from Seahawks running back DeeJay Dallas that prompted a penalty for unnecessary roughness.

Unfortunately for the 49ers, a penalty also was called on receiver Ronnie Bell for a low block below the waist. The penalties offset ,and the 49ers were forced to re-punt.

After the game, coach Kyle Shanahan revealed he did not call a fake punt for the first time of his coaching career, but did appreciate Wishnowsky’s quick decision making.

“It was a good one because when he paused and saw the edge, it was obviously a clean look,” Shanahan said. “And he didn’t hesitate for it, and I was just told he hit over 20 miles per hour on it, so that’s pretty cool. Ronnie felt bad about it. Wish we could have avoided that.”

The play caught the eyes of most players on the bench, including George Kittle, who appreciates the punter’s toughness. The All-Pro, like his coach, applauded the Wishnowsky's awareness to take advantage of the situation.

“My favorite play was Mitch’s run on the punt,” Kittle said. “Too bad that got taken back. It was pretty special. I was sitting there and then all of the sudden he takes off. I was like, ‘Yes, Mitch!’ Because you’ve seen him tackle. I thought he was going to truck-stick someone, but he didn’t.”

Wishnowsky admitted he had not yet spoken to anyone on the coaching staff about the play, but knows that time will come. With his health and availability to the club being important, he knows he needs to be careful.

“I’ve learned to just get out of bounds,” Wishnowsky said. “Get down and get away from the big fellas.” 

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