On February 26, 2019, the 49ers placed the franchise tag on kicker Robbie Gould. They're in a similar position this offseason, as there aren’t any other candidates on the roster who the Niners could place the tag on.
NFL team’s have until March 7 to franchise pending free agents. Gould is officially a free agent as his three-year deal is up. Gould, 40, made 84 percent of his kicks last season, including both attempts over 50 yards. He also went 8-for-8 in the playoffs.
Would it make sense for San Francisco to tag Gould? Here’s a look at the highest-paid kickers in the NFL:
1. Justin Tucker: $6M
2. Jason Myers: $5.3M
3. Chris Boswell: $5M
4. Younghoe Koo: $4.9M
5: Robbie Gould: $4.8M
The franchise tag for kickers comes to $5.4 million annually, which would make Gould the second-highest paid kicker in the league, behind Tucker.
The focal point of the 49ers 2022 offseason was to improve their special teams units. Turning around and letting one of the most consistent kickers in league history walk away at a reasonable cost makes little sense.
Kyle Shanahan speaks glowingly about Gould every time the kicker’s name comes up. Leading up to the playoff game against the Cowboys, Shanahan said, “He’s been one of the best kickers in our generation. He’s been extremely consistent.”
After the Dolphins game, I asked Kyle if Gould felt like a luxury given how accurate he’d been. Shanahan said:
“Yeah, I’ve coached a long time in this league and my gut on field goals was never good and that’s changed since I’ve been in San Francisco and that’s because we’ve had Robbie the whole time and he’s as consistent as anyone I’ve been around and every time we send him out there for a kick, sometimes I don’t even watch it. I just always assume that we have three.”
Those answers would lead you to believe the 49ers won’t let Gould test the market.
Testing the kicking waters is a scary proposition. Could the 49ers find a rookie in the later rounds with a big leg and plenty of potential? Unquestionably.
The Panthers, Rams, and Chargers have younger kickers that were all above 90 percent this past season. But neither of those players faced “pressure” kicks, and Gould provides a peace of mind that only Tucker can top.
Would you franchise Gould for $5.4 million, or roll the dice on an unknown, knowing you’d have the rookie kicker for pennies for the next few seasons?