Rookie kicker Giorgio Tavecchio impressing team with demeanor, dedication, and talent

Doug Russell

Kicker Giorgio Tavecchio is competing for the starting job. Photo: Image by Mark Hoffman - Journal Sentinel

Rookie kicker Giorgio Tavecchio impressing team with demeanor, dedication, and talent

CREATED Aug. 16, 2013 - UPDATED: Aug. 16, 2013

GREEN BAY - If you've heard the story, it might sound familiar. A kicker from Cal, undrafted and signed by the 49ers in training camp, only to be cut and then picked up by the Green Bay Packers, yet still not expected to make the team out of camp.

This week, we all heard the story about Ryan Longwell and how he arrived in Titletown, USA.

But amazingly, that same story is playing out this season as well, in the form of the rookie trying to unseat Mason Crosby, Giorgio Tavecchio.

"It is very eerie," Tavecchio said of the similarities between himself and the Packers all-time leading scorer. "I had no idea he (Longwell) was with the 49ers' first."

And if Tavecchio would have stuck in San Francisco, that would have just been fine with him. After all, he did grow up in 49ers territory.

However, he said that when he was a kid, several of his friends were die-hard Packers fans and often times they would catch the early Green Bay kickoff before the Niners would get going in the 3:00 p.m. Wisconsin-time hour.

Even though he is trying to make his living in the NFL, football was not Tavecchio's first love. He grew up, as many kickers do, playing soccer. But unlike most soccer-turned-football players, he played both in high school.

"I would go to football practice for 20 minutes on Monday," Tavecchio recalls. "Then I would go off to soccer practice, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday. Thursday I would go to football practice, then go to the barbecue afterwards. And then kick (in the game) on Friday."

Tavecchio kicked well in prep school, but still went virtually unnoticed, not making any area honors list. After trying to get a shot at the University of California, they finally called back right before the school year began. Even though he had already paid his housing deposit to the University of California-Davis, where he was to be a walk-on soccer player, Tavecchio jumped at the chance to play in Berkeley.

Once Tavecchio got there, he was thrown right into the fire, kicking off in the Bears season opener, just days after class at his brand new school started.

"I think I got benched at halftime," Tavecchio says with a laugh.

Of course he did recover from that benching and eventually became Cal's fifth all-time leading scorer.

Coaches and teammates, while pulling for incumbent Mason Crosby, have been impressed by Tavecchio's affable demeanor, dedication, and talent.

They also know that if he doesn't make it in Green Bay, he will be picked up somewhere else.