Robbie Gould is Mr. Reliable, once again.
The 49ers kicker has worked his way back in sync at the most important time of the season. With the NFC West championship up for grabs – and the playoffs approaching – the veteran has rebounded from injury and inconsistency to regain the form that made him one of the NFL’s best kickers in 2017 and 2018.
Gould this week was named the NFC Special Teams Player of the Month for December after hitting 10 of his 11 field-goal attempts in the month, as well as 15 of 16 PATs.
In the 49ers’ 26-21 victory over Seattle last weekend that clinched the division championship and the conference’s No. 1 playoff seed, Gould made both of his field goal tries, of 47 and 30 yards. He also was 2-for-2 against the Rams, 3-for-3 against the Falcons and 2-for-2 vs. the Saints. He last missed a field goal attempt against the Ravens in Baltimore on Dec. 1.
He finished the season 23-of-31 on field goals and 41-of-42 on extra points. His field-goal accuracy was just 74.2 percent this season, far below his league-leading 97.1 percent rate in 2018 and his 95.1 mark in 2017. In fact, Gould started the season in a slump. Over his first seven games he made just 12-of-19 field goal tries, then sat out three games with an injury. But since coming back against the Ravens, he’s had a 91 percent accuracy rate.
Obviously, the injury to Gould’s right quadriceps significantly hampered his ability, and the chance to heal with time off in November has allowed Gould to be effective again.
With the 49ers getting a bye in the first round of the playoffs this weekend, Gould will be a key figure when the team plays its first postseason game on January 11 against an opponent to be determined during wild-card weekend.
After Gould returned in the Ravens game, 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan said not all of Gould’s early-season struggles were his fault. Blocking, snaps, holds and field conditions contributed, he said. But Shanahan has never doubted Gould can come through with a game on the line.
“Robbie’s a pro,” Shanahan said. “He’s done this for a long time, and if we’re in his range, I will never hesitate for him to go (for it).”