On a positive note, the San Francisco 49ers don't have to go into the 2019 season wondering what will happen at kicker.

This, after the Niners and the veteran, Robbie Gould, hashed out a two-year deal last week, which could ultimately turn into a four-year deal, pending options. The deal, first reported by ESPN's Adam Schefter, is worth $10.5 million in guaranteed money due at the signing, and the contract could go up to $19 million if it extends over those four years.

Quite a lot of money for a kicker, right? The annual average now makes him the highest-paid kicker in the league.

Some may argue San Francisco is vastly overpaying Gould, who reportedly wanted a trade earlier this offseason after being hit with the franchise tag after his league-leading 97.1 field-goal percentage in 2018.

But NFL.com's Bucky Brooks isn't buying that argument, instead arguing the money the 49ers are spending on Gould is more than worth it.

"The football world likes to make jokes about kickers and their value to a team, but the San Francisco 49ers should be applauded for making a serious commitment to Robbie Gould," Brooks wrote. "The veteran kicker is the most valuable offensive player on the squad, and the 49ers needed to secure his services to bolster their playoff hopes this season."

The Chicago Bears, who were seen as a prime suitor for Gould if he hit the open market somehow, have been searching for a reliable kicker ever since parting ways with Gould after 2015. And that missed kick from former Bears kicker Cody Parkey (it was tipped) against the Philadelphia Eagles in the 2019 Wild Card game, surely helped cement that need.

Not just with the Bears either.

"The thought of paying a kicker big bucks is probably still mind-boggling to old-school executives, but a good kicker is a dangerous offensive weapon," Brooks continued. "Offensive-minded coaches should fully understand the value, based on how elite kickers expand the scoring zone. A kicker with the capacity to consistently nail field goals from 50-plus yards out puts his team within scoring range not too far across midfield.

"This enables offensive coordinators to alter the play-calling strategies in the 'high red zone,' with a guaranteed three points available whenever the offense crosses the 40-yard line."

It's important to note San Francisco finished dead last in red-zone touchdown efficiency last season. If that ranking doesn't change much in 2019, it's likely Gould winds up remaining a key offensive weapon for head coach Kyle Shanahan.

Interestingly enough, a total of 73 regular-season games last year were decided by three points or less -- a new NFL record. So, by that argument, perhaps Brooks is onto something.
  • Peter Panacy
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    Peter Panacy has been writing about the 49ers since 2011 for outlets like Bleacher Report, Niner Noise, 49ers Webzone, and is occasionally heard as a guest on San Francisco's 95.7 FM The Game and the Niners' flagship station, KNBR 680. Feel free to follow him, or direct any inquiries to his Twitter account.