49ers roster: Robbie Gould entering swan-song year in 2022

Robbie Gould #9 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images)
Robbie Gould #9 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images) /

The 49ers likely can’t wait to get out from under veteran kicker Robbie Gould’s hefty contract, and 2022 could prove to be his NFL finale anyway.

If you had to pick the worst contract the San Francisco 49ers have, currently, you’d likely circle that of veteran kicker Robbie Gould.

There are plenty of reasons why.

For starters, his current deal stemmed from a holdout back in 2020 that led to a franchise tag, then subsequently an extension that kept him under contract through 2022.

At a whopping annual average of over $3.6 million per season.

For starters, can someone please recall the last time a franchise tag was used on a kicker? Anyone? And as far as a yearly average of over $3 million, only the elite of elite kickers receive that kind of money.

Yes, Gould’s deal is an outlier.

That all said, 2022 will mark the final year of the 39-year-old veteran’s contract, and at least the Niners can hope for the same reliability, notably in the playoffs, from someone who has been a scoring force at points before during his San Francisco tenure.

Will that continue this season, though? Let’s dive deeper.

Why Robbie Gould improves in likely final season with 49ers

2022 will mark Gould’s sixth year with the 49ers, so let’s start by looking at his career in the red and gold.

It’s come with some notable achievements, including leading the entire NFL in field-goal percentage (97.1) back in 2018:

Robbie Gould Kicking Table
11 y11 yCHI1668686101901037531233232765885.4%38337999.0%
5 yr5 yrSFO7335344441554818111521345388.2%17917195.5%
1 yr1 yrNYG10333344101047100.0%232087.0%

Provided by Pro-Football-Reference.com
Generated 6/9/2022.

There are some regular-season outliers, of course, notably in 2019 when Gould was dealing with injuries and missed a game, as well as him not having a consistent special teams battery for all of 2020.

This helps suggest Gould’s improvement from 2020 to 2021 might continue to trend in the right direction, given the Niners are hoping for more consistency with long-snapper Taybor Pepper and punter/holder Mitch Wishnowsky, both of whom aren’t going anywhere this season.

And while Gould might not have the leg strength to be effective from 50 yards out, at least the consistencies of those short and intermediate kicks have stayed mostly the same.

Perhaps they’ll improve slightly, too.

Why Robbie Gould regresses with 49ers in 2022

Long having relinquished full-time kickoff duties to Wishnowsky, aside from that time the punter and kickoff specialist was hurt last season, one can fairly start wondering when the aging veteran’s leg will finally succumb to the inevitability of time.

Granted, kickers can play well into their 40s (hello, Adam Vinatieri). But those examples are typically the exceptions, and Gould will turn 40 years old towards the end of this season.

Plus, that one impressive year when Gould had a better-than-90 percent field-goal percentage seems to be the outlier, too.

In reality, and taking into account his elongated tenure before joining San Francisco in 2017, one would figure his percentage will hover around his career-86.6 mark.

Perhaps diving a bit lower in the account of his age.

Projected impact for 49ers this season

In total, Gould accounted for 99 of the 49ers’ 427 points scored last season, 23.2 percent.

That’s significant, even though it’s easy to regard kickers as non-important positions. And Gould’s reputation for not shirking in key moments, such as the playoffs, is reputable, too. One can look no further than his former team, the Chicago Bears, and see why kicking woes can be chronic.

The Niners hopefully won’t have to rely as heavily on Gould to shoulder as much offense, this stemming from quarterback Trey Lance having a bit more prowess than his predecessor, Jimmy Garoppolo.

Should Gould be counted upon to attempt 35-plus field goals during the regular season, it might be troublesome, signifying Lance and the offense is struggling.

But what will matter is the conversion percentage, and a middle-of-the-pack 86.0 conversion rate would still be adequate enough here.

Even if it ends up signaling Gould’s final season with the red and gold and perhaps within the league overall.

Next. 30 greatest 49ers players in franchise history. dark