49ers showed interest Stephen Gostkowski before he re-signs with Patriots

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49ers showed interest Stephen Gostkowski before he re-signs with Patriots

The 49ers placed the franchise tag on kicker Robbie Gould, but the team is also showing interest in New England Patriots free agent Stephen Gostkowski, a league source told NBC Sports Bay Area on Tuesday.

Perhaps, sparked by the 49ers' interest in him, the Patriots re-signed Gostkowski to a two-year contract just hours after this report. The Patriots and Gostkowski had reportedly made no progress toward a contract agreement in the months leading up to Tuesday.

Gould and Gostkowski rank Nos. 2 and 3 all-time in NFL field-goal accuracy at 87.745 and 87.381, respectively, behind Justin Tucker. Gould is 36, while Gostkowski is 35.

Gould has not signed his franchise tender yet.

The 49ers and Gould appear to be at odds over the team’s decision to lock him up for this season on the franchise tag. Gould has made it clear he wanted to be able to explore his options as a free agent, especially the possibility of a return to Chicago, where he played his first 11 NFL seasons.

But the 49ers restricted Gould's ability to choose where he will kick in 2019 with the one-year, $4.971 million tag. Gould originally signed a two-year, $4 million contract with the 49ers on the first day of free agency in 2017.

General manager John Lynch said recently at the NFL owners meeting the 49ers worked hard on a multi-year extension for Gould before placing the franchise tag on him in March. Lynch said he wanted to continue to have discussions with Gould’s representatives. But negotiations appeared to be at an impasse.

“That’s not dead, either,” Lynch said. “I think the franchise gives you some flexibility in that the player is a part of you, but we’re still trying to figure it out and (will) probably take another go at trying to figure this out. It takes everyone wanting to do that. We’ll see if that’s a reality or not.”

[RELATED: 49ers reportedly would have topped Browns' trade offer for OBJ]

Gostkowski has played his entire 13-year career with Patriots after replacing Adam Vinatieri at the beginning of the 2006 season. He has appeared in all 200 regular-season games, as well as 28 postseason games. Gostkowski is a four-time Pro Bowl selection, a two-time All-Pro, and a three-time Super Bowl champion.

NFL rumors: Patriots re-signing Stephen Gostkowski after 49ers' interest

NFL rumors: Patriots re-signing Stephen Gostkowski after 49ers' interest

The Patriots clearly did not want to lose kicker Stephen Gostkowski. 

ESPN's Adam Schefter reported Tuesday the Patriots are re-signing Gostkowski, 35, to a two-year deal. 

The news comes hours after a source told NBC Sports Bay Area's Matt Maiocco that the 49ers were showing interest in the kicker.

San Francisco placed the franchise tag on kicker Robbie Gould this offseason, but he has not signed his franchise tender yet. Gould and Gostkowski rank Nos. 2 and 3 all-time in NFL field-goal accuracy at 87.745 and 87.381, respectively. 

At the NFL owners meeting, 49ers general manager John Lynch said the team worked hard on a multi-year extension for Gould before placing the franchise tag on the kicker in March. 

[RELATED: 49ers targeting N'Keal Harry, Deebo Samuel in second round]

“That’s not dead, either,” Lynch said. “I think the franchise gives you some flexibility in that the player is a part of you, but we’re still trying to figure it out and (will) probably take another go at trying to figure this out. It takes everyone wanting to do that. We’ll see if that’s a reality or not.”

With Rob Gronkowski retiring, is George Kittle now NFL's best tight end?

With Rob Gronkowski retiring, is George Kittle now NFL's best tight end?

On Sunday, arguably the best tight end in NFL history called it a career.

After months of speculation, New England Patriots star Rob Gronkowski announced on Instagram that he would be hanging up his helmet at the age of 29.

View this post on Instagram

It all started at 20 years old on stage at the NFL draft when my dream came true, and now here I am about to turn 30 in a few months with a decision I feel is the biggest of my life so far. I will be retiring from the game of football today. I am so grateful for the opportunity that Mr. Kraft and Coach Belichick gave to me when drafting my silliness in 2010. My life experiences over the last 9 years have been amazing both on and off the field. The people I have meet, the relationships I have built, the championships I have been apart of, I just want to thank the whole New England Patriots organization for every opportunity I have been giving and learning the great values of life that I can apply to mine. Thank you to all of Pats Nation around the world for the incredible support since I have been apart of this 1st class organization. Thank you for everyone accepting who I am and the dedication I have put into my work to be the best player I could be. But now its time to move forward and move forward with a big smile knowing that the New England Patriots Organization, Pats Nation, and all my fans will be truly a big part of my heart for rest of my life. It was truly an incredible honor to play for such a great established organization and able to come in to continue and contribute to keep building success. To all my current and past teammates, thank you for making each team every year special to be apart of. I will truly miss you guys. Cheers to all who have been part of this journey, cheers to the past for the incredible memories, and a HUGE cheers to the uncertain of whats next.

A post shared by Rob Gronkowski (@gronk) on

Gronkowski was an unstoppable force on the football field.

Over the course of nine seasons with the Patriots, Gronk caught 79 touchdown passes, the most during that time span. In 115 regular-season games, the Arizona product caught 521 passes for 7,861 yards. He also caught 81 passes for 1,163 yards and 12 touchdowns in the playoffs, all of which are records for a tight end. 

With Gronk stepping away, the mantle of best tight end in the NFL likely will fall to either Chiefs star Travis Kelce or George Kittle.

After a decent rookie season in 2017, Kittle cemented himself as an All-Pro tight end in 2018. The 25-year-old caught 88 passes for 1,377 yards and five touchdowns in last season while breaking Gronkowski and later Kelce's record for most receiving yards by a tight end in a season.

The Iowa product put together a historic season with star quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo missing all but three games with a torn ACL.

[RELATED: 49ers were aggressive in pursuing Odell Beckham Jr.]

Assuming Jimmy G makes a full recovery in time for the 2019 season, there's no reason to think Kittle won't put up astronomical numbers once again this season.

While Kelce and Eagles tight end Zach Ertz will continue to be in the conversation for best tight end along with Kittle, the 49ers star appears primed to take the mantle from Gronk and become the premier tight end in the NFL.