The San Francisco 49ers moved on from kicker Phil Dawson signing long time Bear Robbie Gould to a two year contract. In the process, Gould reunites himself with several people from his past. 49ers new special teams coordinator Richard Hightower was a key influence in bringing the kicker west, special teams assistant Stan Kwan was the first coach to work out Gould coming out of college and Senior Personnel Executive Martin Mayhew was Director of Football Operations in New York in 2016.
Gould spoke at length with the media about his career, why he and the Bears parted ways and kicking in 55 mph winds.
I wasn’t in hurry just to get back and play on the field and it wasn’t because I didn’t want to play, it was because I had been in situations where we had lost games and I wanted to go to play where I thought I would have a chance to win and I think I was able to find that place in New York, and kind of reestablish myself and find my rhythm again and those guys, whether it be Tom Quinn or Dwayne Stukes or Zak DeOssie or Brad Wing, those guys were awesome to work with. A lot of great guys in Chicago to work with too. I have a lot of great experiences and I can bring those here and this will be my 13th year, which is crazy. I played in the Pro Bowl with John, sitting around a pool drinking mai tais with his dad. It’s just crazy
You had 34, is that correct?
Yeah, 34. [laughing] Um...which is wild you know? You think about how everything just comes full circle. You talk about a place here, I mean literally you’re talking about two young guys that have energy that are excited about building a team. Richard Hightower who I knew from Chicago, Stan Kwan was the first guy to ever work me out coming out of college, I was with Martin Mayhew last year in New York. There’s a lot people here that I knew that I could trust. I’m pretty excited about what they’re going to do here.
How does kicking in Chicago teach you about wind patterns?
I just think it teaches you to grow up faster. You’re talking about, you know you go to a dome or you go to a place that has warm weather you can kind of get away with not hitting the ball as clean or not being as competitive with yourself everyday. So I think that having guys [P] Brad Maynard and [LS] Pat Mannelly around to teach me what it’s like to be a pro, what it’s like to prepare for a game. Everyone thinks you just kick. I love watching film. I love learning about special teams and I think the more you know about what the return team is doing, the more you know about the type of returner or how he sets up or if you place the tee in one direction and put the ball in another direction, now he’s thinking and it gives your team a lot more benefits to be able to cover the football.
Phil [Dawson] said he never figured out the wind patterns at Levi’s because they change all the time.
Left center, right center. That’s what I remember. It’s probably, it blows more than the ball will probably move and you just have to, especially down opposite the visitor’s end, you think this ball’s gotta move, and it never would. And you’d miss a couple more than you normally would just warming up. I remember left center, right center being the play that day and that could change from day to day. Talked to Pinion and Nelson yesterday after getting ready to get on a plane to come out here and talking to them a little bit, I’ll lean heavily on them and those guys are great. Phil was able to do a lot of great things here with those guys and that’s what excites me about being here too.
Do remember the 2005 game in Chicago vs. the 49ers?
Probably the best kicking performance I’ve ever seen by Joe Nedney. It was incredible. You talk about another guy you look up to, he was a guy who played for a very long time. It was warm but it was like 55 MPH winds. I think it got blown over. Anthony Adams still gives me a lot of grief for it. There’s a lot of memories and I think it’s great. This is a historic franchise with a lot of history and I’ve been lucky enough to play for two others like that and I’ll try to engrain myself into the culture pretty quickly.
After kicking at Soldier field and at MetLife, do you feel like you’ve seen it all?
You never say you’re going to see it all. You know, obviously there were 55 mile per hour winds that day when we played in Chicago and I think you just prepare yourself to put yourself in situations where if something comes up you haven’t been in or a part of you have a chance to have a game plan to succeed.
Your name is in the record book as far as field goal percentage. Why did the Bears part ways with you?
They had a direction they wanted to go, I wasn't part of the plan. You have a GM and and a head coach and they wanted to go in a different direction which I respect and I had a great run there and I really enjoyed it but at the end of the day, this is a business, you know? It’s not always necessarily about performance and they made a decision to go in a differnet direction and I’m happy for them. I’m happy for the guys in the locker room because it led to some of those guys getting new contracts. It led to some other guys in the offseason getting a new contract so I think you get excited for the guys in the locker room and you just gotta get excited what’s next for you and your opportunity and make the most of it.
What was the recruiting pitch from Kyle and John?
There really wasn’t a recruiting pitch. I think Richard Hightower is the big key to why I’m here. I know Kyle from being at the combine and Adam Gase, being around both those guys. I’ve played in the Pro Bowl with John Lynch. I’ve played against him, I’ve seen him as a commentator and I think the experience that those guys have and the success that they've had as players, commenting is going to help them. I mean think about it, John has been in every single locker room for however many years. He’s been around the organizations, whether you’re a really good organization or one of the worst. So you can see what’s good, what’s bad. He knows how to evaluate a player because he watches film. It’s not like he doesn’t know how to watch film and say this is a good player or this is a bad player. I mean I think you’re talking about a guy who brings a wealth of knowledge to be able to mentor guys too. That, coupled with the success offensively from Kyle wherever he's gone, means that you're going to kick a lot. You hope it’s a lot pf extra points but as a kicker you don’t want to sit on the bench and watch everyone else play, right? Those are things that get me excited and the recruiting pitch of coming here was Richard Hightower and the relationship I have with him and Martin Mayhew who I was with in New York and Stan Kwan who was the first one who ever worked me out coming out of college so there are a lot of familiar faces for me that I think this is a really good situation.
Did you talk to Phil?
No. I don’t talk to any kickers before you sign. They have things that they’re going to need to obviously make a decision. There are things that are important to you. I didn't talk to him at all but I love Phil and I’m excited to get to see him twice a year now.
Phil kept meticulous records about every stadium he was in. Do you do that as well?
I do not. I’m just excited about making my next kick. That’s all I’m worried about. [laughing]