Sports Kicker Robbie Gould shining in 'Goulden' years with 49ers
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SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) — When the San Francisco 49ers placed the franchise tag on Robbie Gould three years ago, the kicker had a decision to make.
He could re-sign or hang up his cleats after a long, successful career and head back home to the Chicago area to be with his wife and three kids.
Gould opted to keep playing, and it was for moments just like Saturday night when his 45-yard kick in a cold, snowy Green Bay delivered the Niners a 13-10 victory that left them two wins shy of Gould's ultimate goal.
“I want to win a Super Bowl,” he said. “If it wasn’t for that, I wouldn’t be playing football. I could care less to play football, and I don’t mean that in a bad way. My kids are at an age — they’re 8, 6 and 3. I’ve spent the last six years away from my kids and they mean the world to me. You know, at some point, Dad’s going to come home and be Dad for them.”
'The Catch' at 40: 5 things to know about that 49ers-Cowboys game
The late Dwight Clark's TD catch is part of NFL lore, but here are five things you might not know about the teams, the players, the game and, yes, “The Catch,” from The Sporting News.“The Catch,” 40 years ago this week, capped a magnificent 89-yard drive, a breathtaking 6-yard pass play, designed by coach Bill Walsh and executed spectacularly by quarterback Joe Montana and Clark, to make the 49ers NFC champions on Jan. 10, 1982, at Candlestick Park.
The 39-year-old's experience paid dividends in Green Bay. He was able to tap into his network of former kickers to get some advice from Lawrence Tynes, who kicked a playoff winner at Lambeau Field in the 2007 NFC title game for the New York Giants.
He took advantage of an extra point try early in the fourth quarter to get a better sense of the footing on the field, and knew it would be soft so he'd have to be “lighter on my feet” for the approach.
Then he did what he's done every other time he's tried a playoff kick — split the uprights. Gould has made all 20 postseason field-goal attempts, the most ever without a miss. He's also perfect on 32 extra-point tries as he has helped both the Bears (2006 season) and the 49ers (2019) make it to the Super Bowl.
Familiar playoff foes face off again as Packers host 49ers
SAN FRANCISCO (11-7) at GREEN BAY (13-4) Sunday, 8:15 p.m. EST, Fox OPENING LINE: Packers by 6, according to FanDuel Sportsbook. AGAINST THE SPREAD: 49ers 10-8; Packers 12-5. SERIES RECORD: Packers lead 38-32-1 LAST MEETING: Packers beat 49ers 30-28 on Sept. 26, in Santa Clara, California. LAST WEEK: 49ers won 23-17 at Dallas on Sunday; Packers had bye, lost to Lions 37-30. 49ERS OFFENSE: OVERALL (7), RUSH (7), PASS (12), SCORING (13-T). 49ERS DEFENSE: OVERALL (3), RUSH (6), PASS (6), SCORING (8). PACKERS OFFENSE: OVERALL (9), RUSH (21), PASS (11), SCORING (13). PACKERS DEFENSE: OVERALL (9), RUSH (12), PASS (9), SCORING (13).
“I think the big thing for me is, I never try to get too high and I never try to get too low when I miss,” Gould said. “So I think kicks like Saturday night’s kick gives me more confidence. I think our operation has really come into form over the last couple of weeks. I feel like our rhythm is in probably the best form it's been all year.”
Gould's clutch performance was part of a rare good day from San Francisco's special teams. Jimmie Ward blocked a field goal attempt by Mason Crosby late in the first half, Deebo Samuel set up a score with a 45-yard kickoff return and Jordan Willis blocked a punt that Talanoa Hufanga returned for the Niners' only touchdown on the day.
Gould then won it with his foot.
“I have faith in the guys and we have faith in each other and I have confidence in them to be put in those situations and to make the plays when it’s time to make those plays,” special teams coordinator Richard Hightower said.
The Niners will have a tough task this week against the Rams, who have one of the league's better special teams units. Brandon Powell has provided a big spark in the return game since joining Los Angeles midway through the season, Johnny Hekker has been one of the better punters for years and Matt Gay was the NFC's Pro Bowl kicker.
Gay made 32 of 34 field goal attempts in the regular season, including four of five from at least 50 yards. He is five for six in the playoffs but was short on a 47-yarder in the fourth quarter last week.
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Josh Dubow, The Associated Press
49ers deal with the playoff highs and lows of Garoppolo .
SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) — Jimmy Garoppolo's playoff performance is all anyone would need to understand the decisions the San Francisco 49ers made last offseason at quarterback. The lack of downfield throws and handful of bone-headed plays explain why the Niners felt the need to trade three first-round picks to draft Garoppolo's eventual replacement in Trey Lance third overall. The big passes under pressure, leadership and respect from his teammates are reasons why San Francisco kept Garoppolo and his hefty contract on board out of hopes he could help the 49ers contend for a Super Bowl.