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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.

“Just listening to (Shanahan) talk,” Gould said. “He was the offensive coordinator (for the Redskins) at that time. Just the passion he had in the game, it made a lot of sense for me to come here.”

Gould played with the Bears from 2005-2015. In his final season with the Bears, he missed six field goals, including three in a loss to the 49ers.

The Bears released Gould one week before the 2016 season began. On October 20, Gould signed a one-year contract with the New York Giants, and he appeared in 10 games and made all 10 of his field-goal attempts. But, the Giants did not extend his contract.

On March 9, 2017 — the first day of free agency — the 49ers signed Gould to a two-year, $4-million deal.

“If you looked at the roster, it had a lot of talent,” Gould said. “Just a matter of if 70 new guys could come together and how fast that could happen. I think that’s a big part of why in the beginning of the season we didn’t pull some of those close games out. Guys didn’t really know each other like they know each other now.

“You’re starting to see guys play for one another. You’re starting to see each guy, whether it’s offense, defense, special teams, make plays. It has to do with jelling and understanding the systems. It’s been a lot of fun the last couple of weeks.

“I can tell you I made the absolute right decision by coming here.”

NOTES

Rookie linebacker Reuben Foster left Sunday’s game twice with a stinger, but the injury isn’t serious. “He plays through a lot of pain,” Shanahan said. “I know he throws his body around. You guys can see how violent he plays. He definitely has made me nervous many a time, so I try not to worry too much until he’s out longer than a couple plays.”

Rookie free safety Adrian Colbert suffered a concussion Sunday against the Titans. The 49ers didn’t detect the injury during the game — Colbert played all 64 of the 49ers defensive snaps. “Colbert surprised us after the game,” Shanahan said. “He came in with some (concussion) symptoms. Had them again this morning. So he’s going to be in the protocol.”

Garoppolo’s career win-loss record is 5-0 as a starter, and his quarterback rating is 101.7. But Shanahan said it’s too soon to know how good Garoppolo can be. “You’ve got to see how they respond to adversity over the long haul. Jimmy is going to get that opportunity. I feel pretty confident he’ll handle it the right way.”

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