NFC West: Nick Folk

Rookie kickers have made 86.7 percent of field goal attempts over the past five seasons. Veteran kickers have made 83 percent over the same period.

That is something to keep in mind when wondering what veteran kicker the San Francisco 49ers might pursue after releasing David Akers this week.

While the 49ers likely will sign a veteran, they should consider using one of their league-high 12 draft choices -- a total expected to rise when the NFL distributes compensatory selections -- for the best rookie kicker they can find.

Those percentages for rookies versus veterans say as much.

Of course, field goal percentages aren't everything because all attempts aren't created equal, even when from the same distance. It's also possible an aversion to trusting rookie kickers has removed from the pool all but the exceptional ones, distorting comparisons to a broader field of veteran kickers.

But that 86.7 percent success rate should get the 49ers' attention as they seek low-cost alternatives to an acclaimed veteran such as Akers, whose 69 percent success rate ranked 34th out of 36 qualifying kickers last season.

Minnesota's Blair Walsh (92.1 percent), Baltimore's Justin Tucker (90.9) and St. Louis' Greg Zuerlein (74.2) combined to make 86.3 percent as the only rookies to attempt field goals last season.

Filtering for venue and distance, I noticed that rookies made 29 of 42 field goal tries (69 percent) since 2008 when kicking outdoors on natural grass from longer than 40 yards. Veterans made 621 of 913 (68 percent).

The results cited here are far from conclusive, which is the point. A rookie kicker might not be a bad option for the 49ers.

Phil Dawson, Rob Bironas, Nate Kaeding, Lawrence Tynes, Nick Folk, Josh Brown, Mike Nugent, Jason Hanson, Steven Hauschka, Ryan Longwell, Shayne Graham, Olindo Mare and Nick Novak are among the veterans without contracts for 2013. Check out our Free Agent Tracker Insider for ranks of kickers Insider and all free agents.

2011 Gridiron Challenge: Key matchup

October, 6, 2011
10/06/11
7:33
PM ET
Inside the 2011 NFC West Gridiron Challenge after Week 4:
Who is your fantasy sleeper play of the week?

2011 Gridiron Challenge: Sando* 17th

September, 22, 2011
9/22/11
11:23
PM ET
Inside the 2011 NFC West Gridiron Challenge after Week 2:
Why the asterisk in the headline? A Sando is, indeed, in 17th place out of all those entries. It's just not me.

Pick 2008 2007 2006 2005
4
Darren McFadden
Gaines Adams
D. Ferguson Cedric Benson
37
Curtis Lofton
Eric Weddle
Jimmy Williams
Shaun Cody
68
Chevis Jackson
Quincy Black
Claude Wroten
Courtney Roby
105
Will Franklin
A.J. Davis
Ko Simpson
Ray Willis
137 John David Booty
Le'Ron McClain
Terna Nande
Ronald Fields
178 Taylor Mehlhaff
Nick Folk
Keith Ellison
Anthony Bryant
213 Chaun. Washington
Chase Pittman James Wyche
Derek Anderson
245 Lionel Dotson
Marcus Hamilton
Spencer Toone
Kurt Campbell
247 Kirk Barton
Mike Elgin
Anthony Cannon
Keyonta Marshall
248 Marcus Monk
Keith Jackson
Aaron Merz
Patrick Estes

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

The Seahawks hold the fourth, 37th, 68th, 105th, 137th, 178th, 213th, 245th, 247th and 248th choices in the 2009 draft. For perspective, I've singled out the last four players chosen in those spots.

Seattle drafted one of those players: offensive lineman Ray Willis, taken 105th in 2005, Tim Ruskell's first season as team president.

The Seahawks have four seventh-round choices this year. Ruskell's teams have fared well drafting in the seventh round. The last five players his teams have drafted in the round remain on NFL rosters, all drafted since 2006: Justin Forsett, Brandon Coutu, Steve Vallos, Ryan Plackemeier and Ben Obomanu.

Ninety-five of the 132 seventh-round choices drafted by other teams during the same span remain on NFL rosters.

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