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Niners kicker Jake Moody feels prepared for Super Bowl moment after learning from painful misses

LAS VEGAS -- It's fitting that the last name of the 49ers' rookie kicker is Moody.

His rookie season has been temperamental. Jake Moody made 21 of 25 field goals, but his misses have been crushing, costing the 49ers two wins in the regular season and sowing tiny seeds of doubt in the minds of 49ers fans accustomed to the consistency of past Niners boot Robbie Gould.

Moody missed a field goal in each of San Francisco's playoff wins, but was fortunate enough to rebound later in those games to convert field goals that ended up serving as the difference in consecutive three-point victories. And those makes might be even more important than just points on the board in narrow triumphs.

Now, he knows how to overcome early disappointment. And in Super Bowl LVIII, that could be all the difference.

"It's no different than in college. The posts are the same size. Ball is the same," Moody said during Super Bowl LVIII Opening Night. "Holder and snapper are just as good, if not better in the NFL. Situationally, I guess it can be a little bit different. There's a lot more games that are decided by one or two scores as opposed to college. ... It's something that you learn, just being in those situations, you kind of learn how to deal with it, mindset."

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Every kicker will likely deliver the same response to questions regarding the pressure of kicking on football's greatest stage: Trust your process. Both Moody and Chiefs kicker Harrison Butker -- who owns plenty of Super Bowl experience, having kicked in all three of Kansas City's previous appearances -- echoed the same sentiment Monday night.

"I've been in a bunch of big games, whether it's been in college or the NFL now, going through the playoffs. I feel like I'm prepared for it," Moody said. "It's the same kick; Just trust the routine, trust the process. It's no different than any other kick."

Moody fielded the expected question envisioning a scenario in which the game rests on his foot, and responded in kind. But interestingly enough, the two-time All-American also revealed he'd taken a thing or two from watching Butker in his earlier years prior to his entry into the NFL, a period in which Butker had to convert field goals to propel the Chiefs to their final destination of Lombardi Trophy glory.

Sunday could be set up as a kicking version of a protégé matching wits with the mentor. And as expected, the focus remains the same.

"For Jake, he played at a big school at Michigan. I was at Georgia Tech, not quite as many eyes on us, but he played at a big school at Michigan," Butker said of Moody. "But it's the Super Bowl. It's the biggest football game you could play in. Just do what you've been doing, just stick to the routine, and don't get too far outside of yourself."

Moody's first high-pressure kick came in a Week 6 loss at Cleveland, where the whipping winds off Lake Erie made for a difficult environment. He admitted he wishes he'd hit that kick "a little cleaner," but was glad he'd learned that lesson early in the season.

Luckily for him, the weather won't play a factor in Sunday's game, which will be played in the controlled climate of Allegiant Stadium.

"Pretty happy," Moody said. "Can't really beat indoor weather for being a specialist."

Perhaps his foot will help the specialist create the special moment the 49ers so desperately seek.

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