Niners sticking with Pochman

The 49ers gave the quick hook to Jeff Chandler. They're going to have a little more patience with Owen Pochman. So, even though their inexperienced left-footed kicker was about the only thing that didn't go right in last week's 24-7 domination of defending Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay, the Niners are sticking with the struggling Pochman to handle the all-important kicking duties as the team attempts to climb back into playoff contention.

Pochman didn't do anything to gain confidence - his or anybody else's - while missing field-goal attempts from 31, 39 and 50 yards against the Buccaneers. Those errant attempts - two of which were partially blocked - provided some of the few eyesores in San Francisco's most complete performance in years against a top-notch opponent.

Consequently, the Niners brought in three veteran kickers for tryouts Tuesday even after coach Dennis Erickson had said on Monday that, "changing kickers all the time is a hard deal."

After taking a look at Todd Peterson, Danny Boyd and Steve McClaughlin - each of whom have varying degrees of experience and success in the NFL - Niners general manager Terry Donahue said Wednesday the team will stick with the inexperienced Pochman as it attempts to climb back into playoff contention.

"We're going to stay with what we're doing," Donahue said. "Owen's going to kick this week and we've got confidence he'll come out of it. Obviously, last week was a rough outing for him. But we have to keep in mind he's a young player. We're just going to be patient and hang in there with our guy. We just want to get him back to where he was when he first got here."

The 49ers signed Pochman on Sept. 16 to replace Chandler, the team's disappointing 2002 fourth-round draft pick who was released after two games. Pochman promptly made all four of his field-goal attempts in his San Francisco debut, but has made just four of nine since.

He also missed a PAT attempt and a 38-yard field-goal attempt that became huge factors in San Francisco's 20-19 loss at Seattle on Oct. 12.

Pochman shrugs off his recent problems. He prefers instead to look ahead to this week's game against the Cardinals in Arizona, where the 3-4 Niners have an opportunity to get back to .500.

"I'm a kicker," he said. "I've kicked for many years. I wish it didn't happen, but you miss. You can't have them back. It's over. It's done with. I can't do anything about it now. You have to move on. I'm just getting ready for Arizona."

Pochman, in his first season as a full-time NFL kicker, had plenty of distractions before facing Tampa Bay. He awakened a few days before the game to find the back windshield of his car smashed in and almost a dozen kicking shoes stolen from the vehicle.

"Maybe that was a bad omen for my week to come," he said.

That week continued Tuesday when the 49ers brought in the veteran trio for tryouts. Donahue said all three kicked fine, but Pochman still had a job when the Niners returned to practice after Tuesday's players' off day.

"It's the nature of this business," Pochman said. "It's how I got my job. It's how people lose jobs. You've got to perform. If you don't perform, they replace you. That's just kind of how you make your living as a kicker. I accepted that a while ago."

The 49ers continue to be impressed with Pochman's leg strength and are confident he will get his field-goal accuracy straightened out.

"He's got a good, strong, powerful leg," Donahue said. "He's doing a good job on the kickoffs for the most part. He's just got to go through this growth period and gain some experience, work on his accuracy and learn how to handle the pressure of pro football and all the stuff that comes with it."

Niners punter Bill LaFleur, who holds for Pochman on kicks, said Pochman didn't miss a kick during Wednesday's field-goal drills and is showing no signs of yielding to any pressure.

"He's fine," LaFleur said. "He knows his job. He's got confidence and he's hitting the ball fine with no problems. He can hit them better than (last week). You just kind of stay out of his way and just let him do his thing."


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