49ers

Why 49ers' Robbie Gould could get boost from Kyle Nelson's return

Why 49ers' Robbie Gould could get boost from Kyle Nelson's return

Sunday's 9-0 win over Washington did not start well for 49ers kicker Robbie Gould, who pushed a 45-yard field-goal attempt wide to the left in a scoreless game in the first half.

But things got a lot better for him and the team in the second half. Gould made field-goal attempts of 28, 22 and 29 yards to provide all of the 49ers' points Sunday in a steady downpour at muddy FedEx Field.

The news keeps getting better for Gould, who should benefit from the return of Kyle Nelson, who has served as the 49ers’ primary long-snapper since 2014.

Nelson completed his 10-game suspension on Sunday for violating the league’s policy on performance-enhancing substances. The long-snapper is eligible to return off the NFL’s reserve/suspended list to play on Sunday against the Carolina Panthers at Levi’s Stadium.

“Just got to get back to work,” Gould said on Sunday. “Obviously, we got to get consistent. We got to get back into a rhythm. I think that’s been the most challenging part over the last six weeks is there have been a lot of moving parts.

“You know, two-thirds of our operation hasn’t been around. And you’re going back and teaching yourself different things and going through different situations, where those situations were pretty easy in the last two years.”

Gould was nearly automatic with the 49ers after signing a two-year contract on the first day of free agency in 2017. Nelson was the long-snapper for all but the final four games of last season, and punter Bradley Pinion served as the holder.

Gould made 72 of 75 field-goal attempts in 2017 and ’18. It was the most-accurate two-season span for any kicker in NFL history with at least 50 attempts.

But after returning to the team after a contentious contract situation that resulted in Gould signing a four-year, $19 million deal, he has been forced to adjust to three different long-snappers and new holder Mitch Wishnowsky, the 49ers’ rookie punter.

The 49ers determined there were timing issues with the first long-snapper they signed, Colin Holba, and released him. Then, veteran Jon Condo retired after just one game. Garrison Sanborn took over the duties for the past three games.

Now, the 49ers hope Nelson's return will be a boost toward Gould returning to the form of his first two seasons with the team.

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Gould already has more single-season misses than during any time in his 15-year career. He is 12 of 19 on field-goal tries. He is 0-for-3 from 50-plus yards, 2-for-4 from 40 to 49, and 4-of-6 from 30 to 39.

He entered the season as the second-most accurate kicker in NFL history, but Gould has fallen to No. 4 on the all-time list behind Justin Tucker, Josh Lambo and Stephen Gostkowski.

“It’s been a growing experience for me,” Gould said. “I think it’s definitely been an experience where I can take the first six weeks and it’ll help me down the stretch, for sure.”

Kentavius Street, Jason Verrett only 49ers options to return from IR

Kentavius Street, Jason Verrett only 49ers options to return from IR

SANTA CLARA -- The list of 49ers on injured reserve who remain as possibilities to return to play later this season seemingly has been reduced to the maximum number of two.

Coach Kyle Shanahan essentially has ruled out the possibilities of wide receivers Trent Taylor and Jalen Hurd from playing this season.

That leaves defensive lineman Kentavius Street and cornerback Jason Verrett as the only players who have chances of being activated off injured reserve before the end of the season.

“Those are guys that are working hard to get back and if we definitely had an injury at a certain spot, we’d probably make that decision sooner than later,” Shanahan said.

Shanahan said the 49ers intend to get both players on the practice field to give them chances to earn their way back onto the team’s 53-man roster.

Each NFL team is allowed to bring two players off injured reserve to return to action in the same season. Once a player begins practice, the club has a maximum of three weeks to activate the player to the 53-man roster, keep the player on injured reserve for the entirety of the season or release the player.

Taylor sustained a Jones fracture in his right foot in the second week of training camp and underwent surgery before the team’s first preseason game. He experienced complications from the surgery that have prevented him from being available at any point this season.

Hurd, a third-round draft pick from Baylor, had an impressive preseason debut against the Dallas Cowboys on Aug. 10 with two touchdown receptions but he has not appeared in a game since due to a stress reaction in his back. Shanahan suggested on Monday that Hurd will remain on injured reserve for the remainder of his rookie season.

“I don’t know if we’ve 100-percent ended that, but it has not been looking good, so that’s kind of out of sight, out of mind for me right now,” Shanahan said. “We might have more of an answer on that later in this week to just finalize that.”

When asked if that meant that Hurd would remain on injured reserve, Shanahan answered, “Yes, ultimately, that he won’t return. But, yeah, I know it’s been week-to-week here. We’ve been thinking about it, and I’m not thinking about it right now.”

Street and Verrett are eligible to begin practice, but the 49ers might wait until Week 14, Shanahan said.

Street sat out his entire rookie season after sustaining a torn ACL in a pre-draft workout. He underwent a follow-up arthroscopic knee surgery in late-August that landed him on injured reserve. The 49ers selected Street in the fourth round of the 2018 draft out of North Carolina State.

The 49ers placed Verrett, 28, on injured reserve on Oct. 3 with a knee condition after he appeared in one game this season. The 49ers signed Verrett to a one-year contract in the offseason.

[RELATED: Shanahan says Ford could miss next couple of 49ers games]

Shanahan said Street and Verrett remain as options to return to the active roster this season if the 49ers need another defensive lineman or cornerback due to injuries later in the season.

“They’re getting healthy,” Shanahan said. “I think both of them are going to have an opportunity to do that. It’s not something we’d do right now, but definitely could be an option if we have any injuries at either of those positions.”

Jerry Rice predicts 49ers go undefeated vs. Packers, Ravens, Saints

Jerry Rice predicts 49ers go undefeated vs. Packers, Ravens, Saints

For the second straight week, the end of a 49ers game came down to the wire. On Sunday, however, San Francisco bounced back with a wild 36-26 win over the Cardinals after a heartbreaking loss to the Seahawks the week before. 

The back half of the 49ers' schedule continues to get tougher, too, starting with a clash against the Packers this Sunday. It doesn't get any easier after that. 

The 49ers are ramping up for an incredibly tough three-game stretch against the Packers (8-2), Ravens (8-2) and Saints (8-2), with the final two being on the road. Jerry Rice isn't worried, though. 

"They gonna win them all," Rice predicted Monday on 95.7 The Game

Rice has continued to claim the 49ers will win the Super Bowl throughout this season. Even after showing cracks in their armor against the Seahawks and Cardinals, he isn't wavering. 

The greatest to ever catch a football believes in this year's 49ers. 

"The Niners are going to do it, man," Rice continued. "I'm serious. They're going to find a way. Yeah, they've got a big task coming up with the Packers, but this team is going to rise to the occasion, and they're going to get the job done."

[RELATED: Where 49ers stand in hopes of earning top seed in NFC]

Rice says the key to beating the Packers will be a fast start from quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo and the rest of the 49ers. While Jimmy G joined Joe Montana and Steve Young in record books against Arizona with over 400 yards passing and four touchdowns, he threw two more interceptions. 

If Garoppolo and the rest of the 49ers get sloppy in a heated battle with Aaron Rodgers and the Packers, it could be a long night at Levi's Stadium to start this three-game stretch against serious contenders. Rice, for one, doesn't seem too concerned about that.