K Robbie Gould and LS Garrison Sanborn
Special teams was a sore spot for the 49ers, especially the kicking unit. Kicker Robbie Gould missed three field goals Monday night, more than all of last year. It was an abysmal showing from a reliable player who luckily didn’t result in a loss.
Long-snapper Garrison Sanborn was recently signed to replace the retiring Jon Condo, who was signed to replace Colin Holba, who was signed to replace Kyle Nelson, currently serving a suspension for performance-enhancing drugs.
So yes, the 49ers have been pretty inconsistent with their long-snappers.
Long-snappers aren’t talked about that much because they only get mentioned when something goes wrong, like Monday. Kyle Shanahan said to the media the second field goal was missed because of a bad snap (h/t San Francisco Chronicle).
The Browns marched down the field following that miss and scored their only points of the game. It was the first time momentum felt to sway to the Browns over the 49ers.
Luckily, cornerback K’waun Williams‘ interception took care of that a little later, but that is simply unacceptable.
The other two kicks were on Gould, however. As a kicker with a $19 million contract, he simply has to be better. The 49ers invested in Gould to be automatic; in that game, he was not.
Gould has struggled more this year than years past, somewhat reminiscent of his final season in Chicago with the Bears. The hope is he can continue to improve and build continuity with Sanborn while the 49ers wait for Nelson, but it remains to be seen.