While the Pittsburgh Steelers have wrapped up their preseason schedule and are beginning to prepare for their hosting chores against the San Francisco 49ers in the opener two weeks from tomorrow, their upcoming opponent is wrapping things up tonight—and not without incident.
There is the small matter of making sure QB Brock Purdy is healthy and ready to go for a full game. Earlier today, general manager John Lynch acknowledged that reigning Defensive Player of the Year Nick Bosa’s holdout is concerning as reports indicate he could carry it into the season.
Now it’s not clear if they will even have a kicker to bring into Acrisure Stadium. It was announced earlier today that rookie third-round pick Jake Moody suffered a quadriceps injury leading up to tonight’s game during the week of practice.
Now their other kicker in camp, veteran Zane Gonzalez, was just ruled out for the remainder of tonight’s game with a calf injury, Ian Rapoport reports. Both injuries have the potential to linger for weeks, which could affect their availability for Sunday, September 10 when they must face the Steelers.
Gonzalez’s injury only became relevant because of Moody’s, of course. You don’t draft a kicker in the third round and then not give him the chance to be the guy, though the rookie has had some growing pains. He has missed two field goals and an extra point attempt during the preseason, though one miss was from beyond 50. He connected on a game-winner in the 49ers’ second preseason game.
Gonzalez, a 2017 seventh-round pick by the Cleveland Browns, has bounced around the league with several teams. His longest stint was with the Arizona Cardinals between 2018-20. He spent the past two seasons with the Carolina Panthers, though he missed all of last season after suffering a quadriceps injury during warmups for the final preseason game.
The Panthers traded Gonzalez to the 49ers in March in a swap of conditional late-round draft picks in 2025. Then San Francisco used its conditional third-round draft pick to select Moody a month later, just the second kicker ever taken within the top 100 selections at 99.
Kickers can be pretty important, including in the first week of the season—as can their holders and long snappers. One of the primary reasons the Steelers were able to beat the Cincinnati Bengals a year ago was because their long snapper got injured during the game and an errant snap contributed to a missed game-winning field goal in overtime.
If the 49ers do not have either kicker available whom they’ve worked with all offseason, it will throw an extra variable into the kicking process. I’m sure they will be working out kickers very shortly, perhaps even picking up the phone and seeing if they can trade for one, if Gonzalez’s injury proves to be one that will last for weeks.
Longtime kicker Robbie Gould is still unsigned and has not retired. He spent the past six seasons with the 49ers, but they opted to go another direction this offseason. They may have to call him at this point.