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49ers place franchise tag on kicker Robbie Gould

No surprise here.

Fooch’s update: Multiple reports have it as the non-exclusive tag as opposed to the exclusive tag. This means Gould can negotiate with other teams, and the 49ers have the right to match any offer. If they choose not to match, they get a pair of first round picks.

The San Francisco 49ers placed their franchise tag on kicker Robbie Gould, making them the first team to use the tag this year. The tag provides for a one-year fully guaranteed salary of $5,162,000 if the two sides cannot come to an agreement by July 15th. If a team signs Gould to an offer sheet, the 49ers could let him walk for the cost of two first round picks.

The news is not surprising. The 49ers do not have any other candidates for the franchise tag, and Gould has been one of the best kickers in the NFL in his two years with the team. The 49ers have a shot at competing for a playoff berth with the return of Jimmy Garoppolo, so having a quality kicker is critical.

Gould had to be aware this would happen, but it won’t make him a whole lot happier. The one-year tender would be more than he made in his past two seasons under contract with the 49ers, but he has been fairly open about the potential of a return to the Chicago Bears in free agency.

The Bears released Gould at the start of the 2016 season, after two straight seasons of struggles. He joined the Giants for the rest of 2016 before signing a two-year deal with the 49ers. In that time he has converted 96 percent of his field goal attempts, including all six from 50+ yards.

The 49ers could spend this offseason finding another younger option, but with Gould 36 years of age and showing no signs of slowing down, it’s no surprise the 49ers want to keep him around. He earned $2 million per year on his last contract, and likely will be looking for a long-term deal worth more than $4 million per year. Stephen Gostkowski was the NFL’s highest paid kicker last year at $4.3 million. Heading into free agency, Graham Gano is the highest paid kicker at $4.25 million per year.

We’ll see if the 49ers are comfortable going big with him. Considering they’re willing to pay him over $5.1 million for one season, it would be foolish to make an offer of at least $4 million per year.