49ers

49ers place non-exclusive franchise tag on veteran kicker Robbie Gould

gouldus.jpg
USATSI

49ers place non-exclusive franchise tag on veteran kicker Robbie Gould

Robbie Gould will not have the opportunity to test the free-agent waters as he had envisioned.

The 49ers on Tuesday placed the franchise tag on Gould, the team announced, restricting his status on the free agent market and all but assuring he will return to the 49ers for at least one more season.

Under rules of the non-exclusive franchise designation, a player may negotiate with other teams. However, the team that places the franchise tag on a player has the right of first refusal to match any offer sheet. If the team declines to match the offer, the team that signs the franchise player would receive two first-round draft picks as compensation.

The 49ers are likely to have nearly $70 million in cap room at the start of the new league year, according to figures from the NFL Players Association and overthecap.com.

The franchise tag for a kicker is expected to be approximately $5 million for one season. Gould signed a two-year, $4 million contract with the 49ers on the first day of free agency in 2017.

Gould made 72 of 75 field-goal attempts in his first two seasons with the 49ers. He ranks as the second-most accurate kicker in NFL history behind Baltimore’s Justin Tucker, making 87.745 percent of his field-goal attempts in his 14-year career.

Gould spent 11 seasons of his NFL career with the Chicago Bears. His family remained in Chicago last season, and the Bears were expected to be interested in the possibility of re-signing Gould if the 49ers were to allow him to become a free agent.

Here is a look at the 49ers’ history of the franchise tag:

2012: Safety Dashon Goldson
2010: Nose tackle Aubrayo Franklin
2004-2005: Linebacker Julian Peterson
1999: *Wide receiver Terrell Owens
1993: *Quarterback Steve Young
*-Signed long-term contract extensions

Best, worst 49ers picks in each round over the past decade of NFL Draft

Best, worst 49ers picks in each round over the past decade of NFL Draft

The 49ers have experienced a few home runs, along with many swings and misses, over the past decade of NFL drafts.

Here are their best and worst picks in each round since 2010. (Beginning with the fifth round, there is no need to list worst picks.)

First round

Best: Although the 49ers selected Arik Armstead in the first round the previous year, the 49ers went back to defensive tackle to land DeForest Buckner at No. 7 overall in 2016. Buckner was the team’s best player for most of the four seasons he played for the club. Buckner was so good that the 49ers got four years out of him and then flipped him this offseason to the Indianapolis Colts for the No. 13 overall pick. The Colts awarded Buckner a contract that pays him $21 million annually. Armstead (2015), Mike McGlinchey (2018) and Nick Bosa (2019) are also looking good.

Worst: The 49ers traded up to get back into the first round to select Joshua Garnett in 2016. That made little sense at the time because there seemed to be a disconnect between GM Trent Baalke and coach Chip Kelly as to the kind of linemen who were fits for the system. Garnett started 11 games as a rookie, then battled injuries and is now out of the league. Reuben Foster (2017) and A.J. Jenkins (2012) did not turn out well. Solomon Thomas could ultimately go down as the worst pick because of the great players the 49ers passed up at No. 3 overall to select him.

Second round

Best: It could end up being wide receiver Deebo Samuel (2019) or safety Jaquiski Tartt (2015), but for now the best selection goes to Colin Kaepernick, who was an effective quarterback for the team on their 2012 run to the Super Bowl and the following season. Kaepernick started 58 regular-season games for the 49ers, during which time the club went 28-30.

Worst: The 49ers selected running back LaMichael James in 2012 despite Frank Gore having plenty of good seasons left in him. James appeared in just 15 regular-season games. He never scored a touchdown and lost five fumbles with the club, including a big turnover in the Super Bowl. The selection of Taylor Mays (2010) was pretty bad, too. He lasted just one season before he was traded away.

Third round

Best: The third round has been a sweet spot for the 49ers to find linebackers. NaVorro Bowman (2010) is the best third-round selection for the 49ers of the past decade. Fred Warner (2018) managed to step in as an immediate starter – something even Bowman did not accomplish. Bowman was a four-time All-Pro selection whose career was cut short due to injuries.

Worst: This is a toss-up between Will Redmond (2016) and Corey Lemonier (2013). We’ll go with Redmond because he was one of Baalke’s many ACL picks that never panned out. Redmond never played a snap for the 49ers. To his credit, Redmond saw action in 13 games with two starts last season with the Green Bay Packers. Lemonier was a pass-rusher who registered just one sack for the 49ers in 42 games.

Fourth round

Best: There’s not a lot from which to choose for the 49ers in the fourth round. But based on his longevity – most of it after leaving the 49ers – the honor goes to offensive lineman Joe Looney (2012). Looney has started 30 games in his career, mostly with the Dallas Cowboys. He started four games with the 49ers in 2014.

Worst: This is also a difficult call for different reasons. Running back Marcus Lattimore (2013) was a person of such high character that the 49ers thought it was worth the gamble. But even he says he was shocked the 49ers drafted him because of his significant knee injury. There were plenty of red flags in the past that should have warned the 49ers against drafting cornerback Rashard Robinson (2016) or running back Joe Williams (2017). At least the 49ers somehow got a fifth-round pick from the New York Jets at the 2017 trade deadline. Therefore, the worst pick was Williams. GM John Lynch’s instincts were to keep him off the team’s draft board. But Kyle Shanahan fell in love with the tape, and Lynch decided to trade up to select him in the fourth round.

Fifth round

Best: This is no contest. George Kittle (2017) set the NFL single-season record for most receiving yards from a tight end in just his second NFL season. He is a superstar.

[RELATED: 49ers mailbag: Do 49ers approach draft as if Joe Staley won't return?]

Sixth round

Best: Nose tackle D.J. Jones (2017) worked his way into a starting role toward the end of his second NFL season. He played well last season as the starter, and could be asked to do more as a pass-rusher this season as the team looks to compensate for Buckner.

Seventh round

Best: Offensive tackle Trent Brown (2016) started 28 games in three seasons for the 49ers before the club traded him to New England, where he won a Super Bowl. He then signed a huge contract with the Raiders in free agency last season and was named to a spot on the AFC Pro Bowl team.

NFL rumors: 49ers talked out to free-agent tight end Jordan Reed's agent

NFL rumors: 49ers talked out to free-agent tight end Jordan Reed's agent

The 49ers have the best -- this isn't a time for debate -- tight end in the NFL with George Kittle, which is why many were shocked when they pursued Austin Hooper in free agency. Hooper eventually signed a mega-contract with the Cleveland Browns, but this certainly signaled what the 49ers could have in store this offseason. 

Sources told NBC Sports Bay Area's Matt Maiocco that San Francisco already has interviewed University of Washington tight end Hunter Bryant over FaceTime. The 2020 NFL Draft is considered a weak class for tight ends, however, the 49ers could look to upgrade their backup in Bryant, Notre Dame's Cole Kmet or Florida Atlantic's Harrison Bryant. 

The 49ers reportedly still are looking at free-agent tight ends, including a former star who has been riddled with injuries. 

"They're definitely looking at tight ends," The Athletic's Matt Barrows said Monday on KNBR's "Tolbert, Kruger & Brooks" show. "They were in on Hooper. I don't know how heavily they were in on him.

"But they've talked about him, they've talked to Jordan Reed's agent about Jordan Reed." 

Reed, 29, missed all of last season while dealing with the effects of a concussion he sustained in Washington's third preseason game. He has dealt with a barrage of injuries throughout his career, including multiple concussions.

Since entering the NFL in 2013, Reed only has averaged 10.8 games played per season and six starts. He played 13 games in 2018 -- eight starts -- and had 54 receptions for 554 yards and two touchdowns. 

"I know that doesn't move the needle for a lot of 49ers fans, but the point is they want an upgrade at their No. 2 tight end, and they'll look in the draft as well," Barrows said. 

Behind Kittle, Ross Dweley currently is the 49ers' backup tight end. It sure looks like coach Kyle Shanahan and general manager John Lynch want some added competition at the position.