49ers

Robbie Gould still unsure if he'll report to 49ers if he's not traded

Robbie Gould still unsure if he'll report to 49ers if he's not traded

The 49ers want Robbie Gould to kick for them in 2019. The veteran kicker would like to have other plans for the fall of 2019. 

Gould, the 49ers' franchise player for this season, has not signed his one-year, $4.971 million deal and has demanded to be traded. The veteran kicker has said he wishes to be closer to his family in Chicago, but the 49ers have said they won't honor the request.

With training camp just around the corner, Gould still hasn't decided if or when he'll report to the 49ers.

"I’m not going to commit to making any decision right now,” Gould told The Mercury News' Cam Inman at the American Century Golf Championship celebrity tournament Wednesday.

Gould has the option to skip training camp and show up Week 1 to start earning his $4.971 million contract. Or, he could sit out until Week 10 and earn a prorated salary after that point. He also could sit out the entire season if he doesn't get his way, but that would be an almost unprecedented move for a kicker.

The 36-year-old still is weighing his options. 

“I don’t really have a plan right now,” Gould said. “Obviously there is a deadline and I don’t have to make any decisions anytime soon. … The deadline to sign a long-term contract is Monday, and the rest of that (potential holdout) is up to me.”

He has indicated he has no intention of signing a long-term deal with the 49ers -- as he looks to head toward Chicago -- and is letting his agent deal with his current predicament while he enjoys time at home.

"We’ve been negotiating for 17 months and it’s been a complicated situation,” Gould said. “I’m at the point where my agent is going to handle it. If there’s anything I need to know about, then I’ll make a decision. When I need to know of something of substance and that I have to make a decision on, he’ll call me. I’ve been able to focus on my training and spending time with my family and being around my kids.”

Gould has been nails for the 49ers over the past two seasons, making 72 of 75 field-goal attempts. While being a kicker isn't the most stable position in the NFL, Gould isn't sweating his current situation.

“I’ve been through several holdouts, I’ve been through a lockout season, I’ve been through not being on a team and showing up in Week 6. I’d say there is nothing that scares me anymore in Year 15, because I feel I’ve been through it all.”

And so it continues.

[RELATED: Jimmy G 'good to go' as 49ers training camp nears]

As for the thought that he desires to head to the Bears, Gould says that's not the case. 

“I never said I want to go back there,” Gould said. “I just said I want to be closer to my family. That doesn’t necessarily mean (the Bears).”

Why Stephen A. Smith is wrong about George Kittle and Travis Kelce

Why Stephen A. Smith is wrong about George Kittle and Travis Kelce

When it comes to identifying the best tight end in the NFL, ESPN's Stephen A. Smith is definitely in the minority.

The consensus of more than 50 league executives, coaches and scouts is that 49ers tight end George Kittle is the best player in the league at his position.

Kittle's own peers recently ranked him as not only the best tight end in the NFL, but the No. 7 overall player in the league.

Pro Football Focus didn't simply grade Kittle as the NFL's top tight end last season; he was their highest-graded player overall at any position.

And yet, Smith vehemently -- and incorrectly -- believes Travis Kelce, not Kittle, is the best tight end in the league (via 49ers Web Zone.)

"He has had about four or five (it's four) consecutive 1,000-plus-yard seasons," Smith said of the Kansas City Chiefs tight end Wednesday on "First Take." "He's good for at least 85 receptions a season. I think last year he had about 97 for 1,200 (yards) and change. Travis Kelce's the real deal as far as I'm concerned.

"When you look at Kittle's blocking ... definitely deserves a lot of credit in that regard, but outside of that, I don't see anything that he's bringing to the table that Travis Kelce can't bring or hasn't brought over the last several years, and there's something to say about your resume. I think Travis Kelce is that dude. I think he's the best tight end in football."

[49ERS INSIDER PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

Kelce is a phenomenal player, to be sure. The 49ers witnessed it firsthand in Super Bowl LIV. But despite Smith going on to tout him as a "model of consistency" in arguing his superiority over Kittle, the question wasn't who has been the best tight end over the last several years. It was who's the best right now, and there's a reason why the vast majority of people in the know have given Kittle as their answer.

While Kelce probably has an advantage in terms of route-running, you can't point to many other aspects of the position that Kittle isn't superior at. And to gloss over Kittle's run-blocking as Smith did entirely ignores a huge aspect of a tight end's responsibilities.

Smith's co-host Max Kellerman set him straight.

"You're wrong," Kellerman responded. "Travis Kelce is great -- no disrespect to Travis Kelce who looked like for a minute he took over from (Rob Gronkowski) -- but now Kittle has got it. By the way, Kittle averages more catches, more yards and more yards per catch than Kelce -- that's just the catching. And if you want to say you'll take Kelce in that department, I get it. Kittle's specialness, even there, as much as he can catch it is the way he runs it, the way he refuses to go down, which is inspirational to watch."

"Kelce is a great tight end," Kellerman added, "but I don't think there's really a debate right now. The No. 1 guy in the business is Kittle."

[RELATED: Sources: Kittle, 49ers making 'healthier progress' on deal]

Booger McFarland -- the tiebreaker -- called it like it is.

"Listen, I'm not concerned about six straight years, we're talking about right now," McFarland said. "I'm not concerned about the past five, six years. Nobody cares what you did 10 years ago. What are you doing for me right now? And right now, today, George Kittle is the best tight end. He's the best tight end in football."

Why Jimmie Ward's mindset is key to 49ers avoiding Super Bowl hangover

Why Jimmie Ward's mindset is key to 49ers avoiding Super Bowl hangover

Jimmie Ward didn’t watch Super Bowl LIV game film for a month, maybe two. Metaphorical wounds were too fresh, too painful to tolerate a replay of how the 49ers blew a double-digit, fourth-quarter lead to the Kansas City Chiefs in granular detail.

Time turned lacerations to scars and tempered raw emotion enough for the 49ers free safety to look at the game as a teaching tool. Ward didn’t just scan it once. He watched it again and again, maybe 20 times in total.

Viewing it critically dulled the heartache but not the motivation. Count Ward among those driven by dreams of a return engagement, hellbent reaching the Super Bowl again and winning the damn thing.

He has, however, put it in proper perspective. Ward knows the 49ers can’t win the Super Bowl in August. Can’t win it on Feb. 7, 2021 either, without doing what’s required every day prior.

“I hear a lot of my teammates say they want to get back to that spot and win it,” Ward said during a Tuesday video conference. “That’s what everybody wants to do, to get to the Super Bowl and win it. My approach is more about taking it one day at a time, one game at a time. I have been in that position, so I have seen what it takes to get to the Super Bowl, but you can’t look past the first game of this season.

"I can’t look past tomorrow’s practice. I just have to do everything the right way.”

[49ERS INSIDER PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

That one-day-at-a-time cliché is easy to say, extremely hard to do for a team that was mere minutes from a championship and let it slip away. It’s human to dream about righting a wrong right away.

Spend all your time looking toward the horizon and you’ll trip over a rock at your feet. That happens to runners-up so often that there’s a term for it.

The dreaded Super Bowl hangover.

It can impact teams that win a title, but it plagues teams that walk away empty handed. Every team that loses a championship game wants to win the next one.

History says that is hard.

Only three teams have won the Super Bowl after losing it the year before. The Dallas Cowboys did it in the 1971 season, the Miami Dolphins won every game and a title in the 1972 campaign, and the New England Patriots rebounded well and won it all after the 2018 season.

That’s a short list, considering how many have trieds. Minnesota, Denver and New England have returned to the title game and lost again. We all remember the early 1990s Bills, who made four straight Super Bowls and lost every single one.

The 49ers certainly are capable of going on a redemption tour. They have all the talent and coaching required to win a stacked NFC West, go on a deep playoff run and end up playing in Tampa for Super Bowl LV.

Anything less, it seems, would be a disappointment. Realizing lofty expectations can’t happen if players are still living in the past. They can’t make dreams reality by skipping steps. That’s why Ward’s philosophy must pervade through the 49ers locker room.

Safety Jaquiski Tartt’s take on the topic suggests that it has.

“Everybody has that same mindset,” Tartt said. “Making it all the way there and not winning leaves that sick feeling in you. We want to get back to that stage and win it all.”

[RELATED: Steve Young believes 49ers must prove lasting power]

Exorcising a demon doesn’t happen in a day. It takes discipline over hundreds of them, and emotion over a missed opportunity can’t fuel you forever. The 49ers have to embrace the grind to realize expectations and do what few teams have done, getting back to the Super Bowl and winning it.

“I just feel like you have to get over it,” Ward said, “and think about how you can get better heading into Game 1.”