San Francisco 49ers: Kicker options for 2019 not named Robbie Gould

SANTA CLARA, CA - DECEMBER 23: Robbie Gould #9 of the San Francisco 49ers kicks a field goal against the Chicago Bears during their NFL game at Levi's Stadium on December 23, 2018 in Santa Clara, California. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
SANTA CLARA, CA - DECEMBER 23: Robbie Gould #9 of the San Francisco 49ers kicks a field goal against the Chicago Bears during their NFL game at Levi's Stadium on December 23, 2018 in Santa Clara, California. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images) /

Veteran Robbie Gould may not be kicking for the San Francisco 49ers by the start of the 2019 NFL season. Here are some alternative kicking options for 2019 and beyond.

The San Francisco 49ers have enjoyed some incredible success from their veteran kicker, Robbie Gould, over the past two seasons, but his time in the Bay Area could be nearing an end.

Despite putting up the best numbers of his career with the 49ers, Gould is reportedly unhappy in San Francisco and has requested that he be traded. This came on the heels of the two sides talking about a potential contract extension that would keep the former Chicago Bears kicker in San Francisco for at least the next couple of seasons.

Unfortunately, it’s clear that this isn’t a pairing that’s expected to work long-term. In fact, it might not even work out in the short-term.

The 49ers have stated that they have no intentions of trading Gould despite his prior requests — but he hasn’t budged. Gould has still yet to show up for any team activities and has instead opted to conduct his own workouts on his own.

To make matters worse, Gould is yet to sign his $5 million franchise tender which would make him the highest paid kicker in the NFL in terms of annual salary. Add it all up and we could have the makings of a lengthy contract holdout on our hands that could extend well into the summer, if not longer.

Yes, a kicker holdout.

Now, kicker holdouts are no doubt uncommon, but it’s not as if they haven’t happened before. Even as recent as 2017 did the NFL world see some kicker contract drama when long-time Oakland Raiders kicker Sebastian Janikowski initially refused to take a pay cut to stay with the team. While he would eventually oblige, the process likely took longer than the Raiders would have hoped.

If anything, Gould has more of a gripe than Janikowski did. The 36-year-old is playing at a higher level than he ever has before connecting on 33-of-34 field goal attempts last season for a league-leading 97.1 success rate.

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Incredibly, since his last season in Chicago in 2015, Gould has missed just three field goals over that time span. Three.

Oddly enough, he’s missed seven extra-point tries over that same timeframe — but who’s counting anyway? Gould hasn’t just been the best kicker San Francisco has seen in quite some time, he’s been the best kicker in the NFL.

But what if the 49ers do eventually give in and trade Gould? Or what if Gould simply refuses to play in San Francisco in 2019? What options would the 49ers have at the kicker position?

The first and most obvious route would be to sign one of the remaining veteran free agents still available. If the team was looking for a simple stopgap, look no further than longtime Atlanta Falcons great Matt Bryant as option No. 1.

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Even at 43-years-old, Bryant is still kicking as strong as ever as he connected on 20-of-21 field goal attempts in 2018 including one from 57 yards out proving that he still has the powerful leg that he had in his prime. Bryant wouldn’t be a long-term solution past the Gould era, but he is probably the most appealing option still on the market.

Elsewhere, younger kickers such as Kai Forbath (31) and Cody Parkey (27) remain available although neither brings with them a particularly enticing recent history.

The 49ers could always opt to go with the outside-the-box route by signing a former Alliance of American Football kicker. NFL veterans such as Nick Novak, Nick Folk, and Younghoe Koo all excelled during their short tenures in the AAF and each could make for a compelling underdog tale if they were to be signed.

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Finally, the 49ers still do, in fact, have another kicker currently under contract. That kicker would be former Cincinnati Bengals practice squad member, Jonathan Brown. Brown spent his college career kicking at Louisville before being signed as an undrafted free agent by the Bengals in 2016.

After failing to make the team in three consecutive preseasons, Brown finally moved on to the 49ers this offseason when the team signed him to a two-year contract back in March.

While the 26-year-old has no prior in-game NFL experience to date, he has impressed when given the chance in the preseason and his powerful leg could be enough to convince the 49ers to give him a chance to win the job.

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Gould could very well end up kicking for the 49ers in 2019, but at the very least it’s good to know that they have options. Especially since it doesn’t look like Gould is a viable long-term solution.

After drafting their hopeful punter of the future, the San Francisco 49ers could be looking at a complete special teams makeover in 2019.