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The 49ers must make a decision about Gould’s future by Week 16

Gould was named the Special Teams Player of the Week for Week 12

San Francisco 49ers v Los Angeles Rams Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images

San Francisco 49ers kicker Robbie Gould was named the NFC Special Teams Player of the Week for Week 12 after hitting a game-winning 49-yard field goal this past Sunday to give the Niners a 23-20 victory over the Rams. On the previous drive, Gould connected from 44-yards out to tie the game at 20. Gould missed a kick before the end of the half from 50-yards out but did make his other kick in the second quarter and both extra points. Gould was responsible for 11 of the Niners’ 23 points on Sunday.

San Francisco has to decide whether they want the 38-year-old kicker on the roster for the future. According to Gould’s contract on Over the Cap:

“The final two years of the contract are option years. The 49ers have until the final week of the 2020 season to pick up the contract option. If exercised, $2.25 million of Gould’s 2021 salary will be guaranteed, and another $2.25 million in 2022 salary will vest on April 1st of that year. Gould had been designated a franchise player by the 49ers at the time of the extension. The contract reduced Gould’s 2019 cap figure by $1.07 million.”

Gould’s salary isn’t guaranteed in 2021 or 2022.

If the 49ers were to release Gould before June-1, they’d save $3.75 million this season and have $1.5 million in dead money for 2021. A post-June-1 release would make more sense financially, as the 49ers would save $4.5 million in cap savings and only have $750,000 in dead money.

That means the front office has to decide by Week 16 whether they want to pick up half of Gould’s $4.5 million in base salary in three weeks. It doesn’t make sense to pick up half of Gould’s option this month only to release him in April, so if the Niners pick up Gould’s option, he’ll be on the roster for at least another season.

Should he be, though?

Gould is the second-highest-paid kicker in the NFL to Ravens kicker Justin Tucker, who is six years younger than Gould, and Robbie is making on average $250,000 less than Tucker. Gould has only missed two kicks this season and one extra point. Both of those misses have come from over 50-yards, as Gould is automatic from under 50. With what you want to pay Gould, shouldn’t he be automatic from 50 yards, too?

Is that fair? Well, looking around the league, Tucker has missed once from 50 yards on three attempts this season. The Dolphins Kicker, Jason Sanders, is 8-for-8. He’s 25-years-old. Falcons kicker, Youngehoe Koo, is 6-for-6, and he’s 26-years-old. Perhaps a young kicker could do just as well as Gould.

It’s going to be difficult to move on from one of the most accurate kickers in NFL history. The 49ers will need Gould for the remainder of the season, and especially in the playoffs if they get there. Next season, assuming the 49ers only suffer half of the injuries they have in 2020, this team is going to be quite good. When you are a contender, inexperience at kicker isn’t something you want to worry about. Gould’s cap number would be $5.2 million in 2021 and $4.7 million in 2022. For a kicker, that’s a lot. But the security blanket may be worth it for the 49ers. Would you pick up his option?