49ers Credit: Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

The San Francisco 49ers’ kicking game will look quite different this year. Robbie Gould had been their kicker since joining them as a free agent ahead of the 2017 season, but the 40-year-old Gould announced in March that he would not be returning to the team. He made it clear at that time he still wanted to play, though, and he told Matt Maiocco of NBC Sports Bay Area this weekend at the American Century Championship celebrity golf tournament in Lake Tahoe that he “never got an offer” to return to the 49ers.

Here’s what Gould, still currently a free agent, said there:

“I would’ve loved to have gone back there,” Gould said at the American Century Championship at Edgewood Tahoe Resort.

“I told them I wanted to go back there. We never got an offer from the team and we never had a conversation about coming back.”

…“The change wasn’t my decision,” Gould said. “Obviously, at the end of the season, they had to make a decision and ultimately they wanted to go in a different direction.

“We put out the tweet that we were going to go in a different direction once we found that out. It was a great run, and it was a lot of fun. I wish all my teammates nothing but the best.”

That’s notable, because it’s a bit of a contrast to the comments 49ers’ general manager John Lynch made in March after Gould said he planned to explore free agency. At that point, Lynch made it seem like San Francisco was interested in bringing Gould back, and the decision to move on was on him.

“Part of the whole Robbie situation is we got to do our work here, and you want to give Robbie as much time to pivot as possible. But we have to do our evaluations here,” Lynch said this week in Indianapolis.

Lynch said the 49ers would closely monitor and evaluate the draft-eligible kickers, but he held out hope the team could work out an agreement that would enable Gould to remain in the Bay.

“Robbie is still very much in the picture,” Lynch said. “He’s been tremendous for us, so we’ll see where we go on that.”

Both of those things could perhaps be true. The team may not have wanted to extend Gould an official offer before the free agency deadline, especially with their interest in looking at kicking draft prospects. (They eventually traded for veteran kicker Zane Gonzalez before the draft and then spent a third-round pick on Michigan’s Jake Moody.) And they did make it clear they weren’t going to use the franchise tag on him the way they did in 2020, which led to him eventually signing a three-year extension. So it’s possible they still had interest in bringing him back at a lesser price, but never actually extended an offer, leading to his March comments about moving on.

At any rate, Gould doesn’t seem to have hard feelings about the 49ers. He even called Kyle Shanahan “the best head coach in the NFL” in his comments to Maiocco this week. But it’s interesting to have him now on the record about never getting an offer. And it’s also notable to hear him commenting on how eager he is to still play.

During the regular season last year, Gould made 27 of 32 field goal attempts (84.4 percent) and all but one of 51 conversion attempts. He also went eight-for-eight on field goals in San Francisco’s run to the NFC Championship Game, adding to his NFL record 29 field goals (21 with the 49ers) without a miss in the postseason. Over six regular seasons with San Francisco, he put up a 87.5 percent field goal percentage, the best in team history (minimum 50 attempts). Gould has a regular-season career field goal percentage of 86.5 percent over 18 seasons: six with the 49ers, one with the New York Giants, and 11 with the Chicago Bears; he also was named a first-team All-Pro selection in 2006. He’s the league’s active leader in points scored with 1,961, and he seems eager to keep playing elsewhere if he gets the right opportunity.

[NBC Sports Bay Area]

About Andrew Bucholtz

Andrew Bucholtz has been covering sports media for Awful Announcing since 2012. He is also a staff writer for The Comeback. His previous work includes time at Yahoo! Sports Canada and Black Press.