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.”

NFL rumors: League seeks to add seventh playoff team in each conference

NFL rumors: League seeks to add seventh playoff team in each conference

The NFL’s playoff structure is expected to change to reportedly include seven teams in both conferences to advance to the postseason.

The current proposal, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, would add one playoff team in each conference and only the top seed in the AFC and NFC would be rewarded with byes in the first round of the playoffs.

The changes to the playoff format would take effect this season when the new collective bargaining agreement is ratified. ESPN reports there is “mounting optimism” the new CBA will be agreed upon within the week.

Through last season, the top six teams in both conferences made the playoffs. If the playoff proposal had been in effect last season, the Los Angeles Rams and Pittsburgh Steelers would have advanced to the playoffs as the Nos. 7 seeds.

As the No. 1 seed in the NFC, the 49ers would have still earned a first-round bye in the playoffs. But the Green Bay Packers, the No. 2 seed, would have played in the extra game against the Rams. If the Rams were to have upset the Packers in the wild-card round, the 49ers would have played Los Angeles in the NFC Divisional Playoff instead of the Minnesota Vikings.

But the new proposal would have had an even more major impact in the AFC, where the Kansas City Chiefs would have been forced to win three games in the playoffs just to advance to the Super Bowl.

"That's been agreed to for a long time," one source familiar with the CBA talks told ESPN about the NFL's new playoff structure. "There wasn't a lot of disagreement to that issue."

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Players on the top team in each conference will receive postseason pay for the bye weekend, unlike years past, according to the report.

Also, ESPN reported that the sides are also trying to work through a proposal for a 17-game regular season, while the exhibition season is shortened to three games. The earliest that change could occur would be the 2021 season, according to the report.

Deebo Samuel pleas for 49ers to re-sign Emmanuel Sanders in free agency

Deebo Samuel pleas for 49ers to re-sign Emmanuel Sanders in free agency

Before the 49ers officially had lost Super Bowl LIV to the Kansas City Chiefs, tight end George Kittle was already preaching they would be back next year.

But it didn't stop with him.

49ers players throughout the roster already are thinking of everything they can do to make another run at it, and that includes bringing back free-agent receiver Emmanuel Sanders.

Fellow wideout Deebo Samuel made it clear Wednesday on Twitter that he wants to see the 49ers bring back the 32-year-old veteran.

Sanders showed his appreciation later Wednesday morning.

After coming over from the Denver Broncos via trade in October, Sanders excelled with the 49ers. He caught 36 passes for 502 yards and three touchdowns in the regular season, and added five receptions for 71 yards in the postseason.

But Sanders could have been an even more critical part of 49ers lore, had it not been for Jimmy Garoppolo's overthrown pass with less than two minutes remaining in Super Bowl LIV. But it was not meant to be.

Sanders has been open about his love for the team that had just barely missed the championship and has spoken out about those second-guessing him due to his age. 

The receiver laughed at the fact that he has been "flying past 23-year-olds," and exhorted that he still has plenty of good years left in him.

[RELATED: Sanders offers advice to teammates playing in first Super Bowl]

He also embraced the youth the other wide receivers brought to the team, such as Samuel and Kendrick Bourne. Sanders loved the loose vibes of the 49ers' locker room and assisted the younger players in prepping for the big moments of the Super Bowl. 

Deebo surely noticed that and knows he wants his teammate back for the team's quest to make another Super Bowl run next season.