San Francisco 49ers draft Aussie punter Wishnowsky


Some 49ers fans were furious and vented on social media that the team used a fourth-round pick on a punter, when so many talented defensive backs and offensive linemen were still available.

But San Francisco needed to fill the position after Bradley Pinion, a former teammate of NRL star Jarryd Hayne, left the team earlier this year.

Former Sydney Swans academy member Michael Dickson became a sensation after he was selected in the fifth round by the Seattle Seahawks last year and became the top punter in the NFL in his rookie campaign.

There are 32 NFL teams and five now have Australian punters.

Australians have also dominated US college football with five of the last six Ray Guy Award winners coming from Down Under.

Shanahan, 49ers general manager John Lynch and other coaches and members of the team’s front office looked like they had won a jackpot lottery when they called Wishnowsky with the news.

They gave him an «Aussie, Aussie, Aussie, oi, oi, oi» chant.

Wishnowsky was emotionally overwhelmed.

«Hell yeah,» he replied.

Wishnowsky had to quit Australian rules football after repeated shoulder injuries.

His life changed when a leading Australian gridiron figure, Craig Wilson, spotted him booting a Sherrin in a Perth park with mates.

Wilson linked Wishnowsky up with the heads of the highly-successful Prokick Australia punting academy, Nathan Chapman and John Smith, and they set him up with the University of Utah in 2016.

Wishnowsky was named an All-American in each of his three years at Utah and in 2016 won the Ray Guy for being college football’s top punter.

The 188cm tall Wishnowsky can punt a ball with more than five seconds of hang time and land with pin-point accuracy.

He can also perform kick-off duties.

Wishnowsky said Aussie rules converts can punt the ball away from returners but NFL scouts want punters to also have booming spiral kicks in their arsenal.

«I feel keeping it away from the returner in that Aussie kind of kick is seen as a bit of a novelty,» Wishnowsky said.

«At this time I feel NFL coaches want to see if you can do the Aussie style but you can also also do the spiral.»

Australia’s other NFL punters are Cameron Johnston (Philadelphia), Jordan Berry (Pittsburgh) and Lachlan Edwards (New York Jets).

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