Cortez, the incumbent who struggled at the end of last season, clearly beat out Chandler – the team's fourth-round draft pick – during the summer and preseason. That's not exactly what the team had anticipated, and not exactly what some had hoped for.
But it is what it is, and the Niners chose the kicker who is performing and who should best give them an opportunity to win this season.
"The way Jose finished up last year, we felt like we had to get him competition, and we had to either find somebody that was better or he had to be better," Niners special teams coach Bruce DeHaven said Sunday morning. "And he got better. I don't think there's any doubt about it."
Cortez made each of his nine kicks during the preseason – four of them field goals – while Chandler was 3-of-5 on field-goal attempts. Cortez was a little better on kickoffs, but the main thing was that Cortez has consistently displayed tremendous progress since spring minicamps and had corrected his problems from last year, when he had six kicks blocked.
"He's changed his trajectory on his kicks, which is the thing we were most concerned about," DeHaven said. "He's worked very hard to change that, and he's done it. There's probably not a kicker in the league that's kicking the ball any higher right now than Jose does."
The team has much more invested in Chandler, but ultimately, that sort of thing doesn't matter in the NFL. It's all about here and now for contenders such as San Francisco. The Niners realize that their best chance to win this season is with Jose Cortez as their kicker. On the first day of September, he is better Chandler. He won the job, and any other decision – to go with Chandler, to rotate the two, to share the kicking duties between the two – would have been a travesty that ultimately would be detrimental to the team.