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5 Days till Camp: Will Robbie Gould live up to expectations after contract saga?



© Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

SANTA CLARA – Robbie Gould is coming back to the Bay. Following a somewhat bizarre contract standoff with the 49ers after the team put its franchise tag on him this offseason, Gould eventually re-signed with the team on a two-plus-two deal, which, if run through its four-year period, would amount to four years, $19 million. After his second year, the 49ers have an option to pick up the final two.

Gould was somewhat coy about his intentions this offseason, hinting pretty clearly that he’d like to go back to Chicago, where he spent the bulk of his career with the Bears, and where his family is anchored. He put in a trade request, which the 49ers responded to by stating that they would not trade him.

In the end, the 49ers kept one of the best kickers in the NFL over the last two seasons.

Since joining the 49ers in 2017, Gould has gone 72/75 on his field goal attempts (96.0 percent) and 55 of 59 extra point attempts (93.2 percent) for 271 total points. Bot his 72 made field goals and 96.0 field goal percentage over the past two years ranks first in the NFL over that time span, and that 96.0 percent mark is the second-highest in NFL history over two years.

Gould set the 49ers’ franchise record with 33 consecutive made field goals from 2017 to 2018 and was stellar last season. While he was eighth in the NFL last season with 126 points, he was 2/2 from 50-plus yards out (his longest field goal of 53 yards was tied for the shortest long mark in the NFL, but his strength is accuracy, not distance), 9/10 from 40-49 yards, 13/13 from 30-39 yards and 9/9 from 20-29 yards.

His 33/34 mark on field goals was the best in the NFL last season, with Aldrick Rosas of the Giants the only other kicker who was close in terms of efficiency (32/33). Gould, Rosas and the Atlanta Falcons’ Matt Bryant (20/21) were the only kickers to miss just one field goal. No kicker (with more than six attempts) went perfect.

Gould did miss two PATs last season, going 27/29 on the season, probably the most disappointing part of an otherwise stellar season last year.

Obviously, the 49ers are ecstatic to have him back. He’ll make a reported $3.9 million this season and $5.1 million next season (factoring in his signing bonus), in the two years of his deal which are fully guaranteed.

The only major concerns for Gould are age and his desire to play for the 49ers. He’s 37, and clearly has his heart tied to Chicago (and is the fifth-highest paid kicker in the league this season, and second-highest paid kicker by average yearly salary). But by guaranteeing only two years of his deal and leaving the final two years (which would see him play at age 39 and 40) up to team options, the 49ers ensured contract flexibility. Unless he gets hurt this year and the team is stuck playing a significant salary to him over the next two seasons, it will probably prove to be a good deal for both sides.

There is a chance Gould fails to live up to the high standard he’s set over the last two seasons , but the 49ers had to approach this season like he’ll remain near the same level. After a somewhat distracting holdout, that’s the only question the 49ers will have for Gould this year; will he live up to those expectations?

Note: This piece is part of a countdown to training camp feature which, each day leading up to the start of training camp on July 27, will take a look at one of the 10 biggest questions the 49ers will have to answer this season. While camp officially starts on July 26, the first practice is July 27.

To read Sunday’s piece on whether Jimmy Garoppolo will live up to the expectations set for him click here.