The Green Bay Packers' kicking competition has officially begun.
With Mason Crosby coming off the worst of his six seasons in Green Bay, the Packers have brought in free-agent kicker Giorgio Tavecchio on Monday, his agent Dave Sofaer confirmed Tuesday morning.
A native of Milan, Italy, the signing was first reported by Sportsitalia and was also alluded to in a tweet on Monday night from Packers returner Jeremy Ross, a teammate of Tavecchio at the University of California.
Tavecchio, 22, was in training camp with San Francisco last season after finishing his collegiate career at California as the Golden Bears’ fifth all-time leading scorer. He made 48-of-64 field goals (75 percent) and 112-of-120 extra points (93.3 percent) during his four-year career.
A left-footed kicker who made a late switch from soccer to football, Tavecchio made the only field goal he attempted in the preseason with the 49ers from 29 yards, along with two extra points in the team’s preseason opener against Minnesota on Aug. 10.
Tavecchio was released on Aug. 27 and never landed on a roster, but could present the first challenge for Crosby’s job after running unopposed since he bested Dave Rayner as a rookie sixth-round pick in 2007.
Following a career season in 2011, Crosby’s accuracy dipped to a league-low 63.6 percent last season with only 21 makes on 33 attempts, including a midseason slump in which he missed 12 of 24 field goals with a miss in eight consecutive games he attempted a kick.
Although the team never brought in any in-season competition for kicking duties, Packers coach Mike McCarthy said at the NFL owners meetings he wasn’t opposed to a potential kicking battle entering next season.
“I think competition’s good, definitely,” McCarthy said. “I don’t think you can look past any past performance throughout your team and think that competition’s (not) going to help regardless of how they performed the year before. I mean, I think that’s definitely something that we’ll look at.”
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