Kicker Robbie Gould was a popular man during his two seasons with the 49ers.
Gould set a club record with 33 made field goals, a streak that began last season and ended in Week 5 of 2018. Then, he began a new streak. He made his final 23 attempts when the season ended.
In two years with the 49ers, Gould made 72 of 75 field-goal attempts.
Gould seems as if he wants to return to the 49ers. But due to the uncertainty with his future, he and his wife decided she and their three boys would remain in the Chicago area during the season. Even at 36, Gould should have some options in free agency.
The 49ers head into the offseason with $65 million to $70 million in projected salary cap space. Here is the list of 49ers scheduled for free agency:
Unrestricted free agents
K Robbie Gould: The 49ers signed Gould to a two-year, $4 million contract on the first day of free agency in 2017. They got their money’s worth from him.
The 49ers have sole negotiating rights with Gould until March 11, and he is likely the team's top priority. Because of the difficulty of kicking at Levi’s Stadium, the 49ers need a veteran kicker. They also figure to be in a lot of close games in 2019, so every point is important.
The 49ers could bring back Gould, 36, for one season on the franchise tag for approximately $5 million if they are unable to work out a contract before he is scheduled to hit the open market.
DB Jimmie Ward: If you think Ward’s window with the 49ers is closed after another injury-plagued season, you would be wrong.
The 49ers’ coaching staff likes a lot of things about Ward, including his versatility and his penchant for playing hard. The coaching staff felt like Ward was the team’s best defensive player just prior to his latest season-ending injury.
But, of course, there are other things to consider. The front office will keep the bottom line in mind. After all, it is difficult to devote a sizable contract to a player who has gone on injured reserve in four of his five NFL seasons due to broken bones.
A first-round pick in 2014, Ward played last season on the fifth-year option for $8.526 million.
How other teams view Ward – and if any team is willing to give him more than a one-year, prove-it contract – will likely determine whether Ward is back next season with the 49ers.
OG Mike Person: When the 49ers signed him, it barely ranked as a footnote to the comings and goings in the offseason. But Person remained healthy through training camp and won the starting job. Then, he started all 16 games, and performed admirably. Person is not likely to warrant a big contract elsewhere in free agency, so it would seem ideal for the 49ers to bring him back.
P Bradley Pinion: Pinion ranked tied for 24th in the NFL with a 39.1 net punting average. Statistically, that was his worst season in the league after achieving a career-best 41.3 net average in 2017. But Pinion turns 25 in June and his best years are ahead of him. He also deserves some credit for being a reliable holder for Gould.
LB Mark Nzeocha: The four-year veteran appeared in all 16 games, mostly on special teams. He also started three games at strongside linebacker, and recorded 17 tackles with one sack. He could be back on a minimum-level contract.
RB Alfred Morris: The 49ers signed the seven-year vet during training camp as an insurance policy. After starting in the season opener, Morris saw his play time dwindle as the season progressed. Matt Breida, Raheem Mostert and Jeff Wilson Jr. all saw playing time ahead of him. But in the season finale when the 49ers were decimated by injuries, Morris gained a season-high 111 yards and a touchdown on 16 rushing attempts. The 49ers will look for younger and more-explosive options from all of their backups in 2019. The 49ers feel good about the prospect of entering the offseason with Jerick McKinnon, Breida, Mostert and Wilson.
DB Antone Exum: He started three games at strong safety early in the season and the final three games at free safety. Exum proved to be a solid player, and could get a contract for next season. He also was the 49ers’ most-fined player with three fines for borderline unnecessary roughness infractions.
LS Kyle Nelson: He began serving a suspension for violating the NFL’s policy on performance-enhancing substances as a repeat offender. Nelson did not play in the final four games. He is also ineligible to play in the first six games. Colin Holba took over and performed well. Holba is likely to head into next season in this role.
(Unrestricted: Players with four or more years of NFL experience whose contracts expire on the first day of the new league year on March 13. The old teams hold sole negotiating rights with these players until March 11, when they are free to begin talking to other clubs.)
Restricted free agents
RB Raheem Mostert: He earned a spot on the 53-man roster due mostly to his play on special teams. But he also proved he is an explosive runner. He averaged 7.7 yards on 34 carries before sustaining a fractured forearm in Week 9. He will be back, and the 49ers might be wise to sign him to a multi-year deal.
DB Tyvis Powell: He bounced around from the practice squad to the active roster to not being on the team at all. He finished the season back on the team. The depth will be an area the 49ers will look to improve in the defensive backfield.
(Restricted: Players with three years of experience. If club gives player a qualifying offer, he can still negotiate with other teams. If player signs an offer sheet with new club, his old club can match the offer to keep him. If old club does not match offer, it may receive a draft pick as compensation, depending on the level of the qualifying offer.)
Exclusive rights free agents
LB Elijah Lee: He started the final four games of the season at the weakside linebacker spot after Reuben Foster was released following his arrest at the team hotel in Tampa. Lee will be back, and he will be in the mix to compete for a starting job.
CB Greg Mabin: He saw action in 12 games this season, but will face stiff competition to hold onto his roster spot.
(Exclusive rights: Players with one or two accrued NFL seasons. These players are not allowed to negotiate with other teams, as long as their old club gives them a qualifying offer.)