NFL & Atlanta Falcons

Robbie Gould’s future with 49ers in limbo as deadline nears

Robbie Gould was noncommittal Wednesday on whether he'll be signed and kicking for 49ers by their Sept. 8 opener, much less at training camp in two weeks.

"I'm not going to commit to making any decision right now," said Gould, who'll be competing in the American Century Championship celebrity golf tournament this week at Edgewood Tahoe.

Gould's kicking career remains in limbo after skipping the 49ers offseason program, and he harbors no urgency to sign a franchise-tagged tender of $5 million for this coming season.

"I don't really have a plan right now," Gould said. "Obvious there is a deadline and I don't have to make any decisions anytime soon. ... The deadline to sign a long-term contract is Monday, and the rest of that (potential holdout) is up to me."

He has options, as supported by the league's collective bargaining agreement with the players union. He could skip training camp, which opens July 26, and wait to report until Week 1 to start earning his $5 million contract. Or, he could wait until Week 10 to report and earn a prorated salary. Or he could sit out the entire season, as the Le'Veon Bell did last year to spurn the Pittsburgh Steelers' franchise tag.

Then again, perhaps Gould's agent, Brian Mackler, lands him a multi-year contract as talks continue.

The 49ers brass said in April that Gould would not be traded, and coach Kyle Shanahan sympathized with Gould's desire to spend the offseason at his Chicago home with his wife and their three young sons.

"We love having him around. But, I understand how he feels and what's going on," Shanahan said June 11. "If (reporting Week 1) is the way he would like to do it, no problem with that at all. We'd always rather it be perfect the way we want it, but if he doesn't want to show up until Week 1, it is what it is.

"... Robbie's a hell of a kicker and nothing's really changed on that. I just really hope he shows up by the time we play Week 1."

Monday indeed marks the league's deadline for franchise-tagged players to sign multi-year contracts, something Gould's camp has pursued for over a year. Gould requested a trade three months ago and indicated at the time he wouldn't sign a long-term deal.

"We've been negotiating for 17 months and it's been a complicated situation," Gould said. "I'm at the point where my agent is going to handle it. If there's anything I need to know about, then I'll make a decision.

"When I need to know of something of substance and that I have to make a decision on, he'll call me. I've been able to focus on my training and spending time with my family and being around my kids."

Uprooting his family for a short-term deal isn't feasible.

Gould has spent the offseason in Chicago, where he launched his career and established himself as the Bears all-time leading scorer from 2005-15.

The Bears' ensuing instability at kicker, along with Gould's love of the Chicago area, has fueled speculation of a potential return, although Gould has not publicly connected those dots.

"I never said I want to go back there," Gould said. "I just said I want to be closer to my family. That doesn't necessarily mean (the Bears)."

As much as Gould has cherished spending this offseason home with his family, he did not minimize his absence from the 49ers offseason program.

"Listen, there are 11 people on the field-goal unit, and we have a new holder and new punter," Gould said. "There's going to be a lot of change in that regard. There's a lot of tempo and timing and situational football that has to go into play."

Gould made 72 of 75 field-goal attempts the past two seasons, including a couple game winners, so the 49ers did not hesitate to designate him as their franchise player in February. That kept him from cashing in on the open market.

"I've been through several holdouts, I've been through a lockout season, I've been through not being on a team and showing up in Week 6. I'd say there is nothing that scares me anymore in Year 15, because I feel I've been through it all."

Gould, himself, categorized himself as a kicker "in limbo" when addressing a local Rotary chapter Wednesday morning alongside former San Jose Sharks captain Joe Pavelski. Among the questions Gould answered was his favorite place to play, and his answer was a NFC North stadium, but not Chicago's Soldier Field.

"My favorite place is Green Bay," Gould said. "There's something to the history of going there, and walking through the single-file tunnel. I've played really well there. It's a comfort thing."

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