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Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Why 49ers insider isn’t closing the door on a Robbie Gould return

Mar 7, 2023 at 9:33 AM--

John Lynch admitted that the San Francisco 49ers are doing their homework on kickers. At the time, the general manager said they hadn't closed the door on Robbie Gould returning. The veteran kicker is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent next week and is looking to get paid.

"Robbie is still very much in the picture," Lynch said. "He's been tremendous for us, so we'll see where we go on that."

Then Gould seemingly shut the door in Lynch's face, telling ESPN that he plans to test free agency and will play elsewhere in 2023.

That seemed to end the six-season chapter of Gould's career in Santa Clara. Or has it? One 49ers insider isn't so sure.

"I don't know if that's fact," Matt Barrows of The Athletic said Monday on KNBR. "I mean, I think that's a possibility. We're now in the crazy season, of course. All is fair in love and war and contract-negotiations season. You can recall last year when Deebo Samuel requested a trade and didn't want to have anything to do with the 49ers. He was gone, and then he wasn't gone.

"So, to me, this is standard kind of negotiation tactics. We were in Indy last week, and it wasn't unprompted, but John Lynch sort of volunteered that We're in Indy. We got to look at the kickers. We're evaluating these college kickers. My BS detector went off a little bit. The needle was flickering a little. And I thought to myself, OK, that's a signal to Robbie.

And then Robbie reacted like Robbie does—very strongly and went to ESPN, said, 'I'm not kicking for the 49ers next year. I'm going to play elsewhere. I'm going to test the market.'"

Gould has been reliable for the 49ers. The kicker completed 27-of-32 field goal attempts (84.4 percent) and 50-of-51 extra point attempts (98 percent) with the 49ers last season. He made all four field-goal attempts in the playoffs and is a perfect 29-of-29 all-time in postseason action.

"There's one team that's going to be looking for a kicker. It's 49ers," Barrows continued. "And they've already shown when they did this dance three years ago in 2019, four years ago, that they were willing to pay big bucks for a guy who they thought was going to make big kicks in the playoffs. That's exactly what Robbie Gould is and what he's done.

"And so I think it's a better than 50/50 chance that he's back with the 49ers. That's just my call. I don't know any secret sauce, but that's my guess."

What kind of money might the 49ers expect to pay Gould to convince him to return to the Bay Area?

"Well, he was averaging top-of-the-market money for a kicker, and that was about 4.8 million a year," Barrows said. "So the franchise tag is something like 6.1 for a kicker, for him. The 49ers certainly aren't going into the six range.

"My guess is that Robbie Gould wants an average per year that starts with a five, and the 49ers want an average per year that starts with a four. And the question is, is there another team out there that is willing to pay more than the 49ers are? And I really don't know.

"… I mean, who else wants a kicker? Who else is willing to pay a kicker five-and-a-half million dollars? My thought is no one. I don't think anybody out there is going to do that. Maybe the Cowboys do. Talk about a team that had kicker struggles right at the wrong time.

"So maybe one of these teams that thinks that it's going to be going deep into the playoffs just like the 49ers are over the next two or three seasons wants the peace of mind of having a Robbie Gould on the team. And that's Robbie's value."

You can listen to the entire conversation with Barrows below.


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