SANTA CLARA — Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo has been the story for the 49ers since he took over the starting job three weeks ago.
Kicker Robbie Gould has been the hero.
As well as Garoppolo has played, the 49ers offense has scored only three touchdowns during this three-game win streak. Without Gould, the 49ers may not even have a win streak. He has made 15 field goals the past three games – more than any kicker has made in a three-game span in the history of the NFL, according to Elias Sports.
“I can’t explain to you why he’s doing so well,” Kyle Shanahan said at his press conference Monday afternoon. “I don’t know enough about kicking. All I know is whether (the kick is) good or not good. It’s probably the only position I can study off a piece of paper just by reading the percentage. But (Gould) has been great.
“He’s the only kicker I’ve been around who truly knows everything that’s going on. He’ll call (special teams coordinator Richard) Hightower on Tuesday nights and try to suggest things they should do in their blocking patterns on kickoffs and punts. (Gould) really enjoys football.
“He comes in early, he talks to everybody, is a part of everything. He’s not just in his own little world kicking a ball. He’s really a part of this team. That’s why we consider him a leader. I think the guys respect the hell out of him because of how he carries himself and also because of how good a job he’s doing in these games.”
Gould, 35, has missed zero field goals since Week 8, and has missed only two field goals all season. He’s having the best year of his 11-year career.
After Sunday’s win over the Tennessee Titans, Shanahan said Gould is playing as well as any player he ever has coached.
“When he goes out there, I never think he’s going to miss it,” Shanahan said. “He has been automatic. I’m glad he’s not getting too fatigued. I wish we didn’t have to use him so much. I wish we were scoring touchdowns more, but every time we don’t, he makes it. He’s been unbelievable this year.”
“You want to end every drive with points in some capacity,” Gould said. “Whether it’s a touchdown or whether it’s a field goal, you talk about building momentum as the game goes forward. You want to put those points on the board knowing that you’re extending the lead or you’re giving yourself a chance.
“Every kick, every point matters in this league. Especially when you’re going against some great football teams. I put the two losses we had against Washington, against Los Angeles on my back because I didn’t get my job done. Those are the kind of kicks I always go back and look at. I can tell you every single kick from the entire season.”
Gould remembers meeting Shanahan for the first time seven years ago at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis. Gould was a member of the Chicago Bears, and was walking through the lobby of the JW Marriott with former offensive lineman Tony Pashos. Shanahan was sitting at a table in the lobby with current Miami Dolphins head coach Adam Gase. Pashos introduced Gould to Shanahan, and they hit it off.