Robbie Gould

AFC Coaching Notes: Texans, Browns, Bettcher, Ravens, Gould

The Texans have hired former Dolphins’ coaching assistant Kenyon Jackson in the position of assistant defensive line coach, according to Aaron Wilson of Pro Football Network. Son of former Pro Bowl tight end Keith Jackson, Kenyon played defensive tackle at the University of Illinois under new Texans’ head coach Lovie Smith.

In what is starting to seem like a trend, Smith also hired Dele Harding as a defensive assistant. Harding also played for Smith at Illinois, serving for two years as a team captain at linebacker.

Here are a few more notes on coaching changes in the AFC, starting with a note from the location of this weekend’s NBA All-Star game:

  • The Browns have hired Jordan Thomas in the role of assistant defensive line coach, according to Wilson. Thomas has coached defensive linemen at San Diego State and spent time at Lamar and Texas A&M University-Kingsville, as well. In addition, the Browns added Jeff Anderson to the staff as a defensive quality control coach.
  • Staying in the Buckeye State, recent 2021 NFL runner-ups the Bengals have made a move to replace former linebackers coach Al Golden. Golden is headed back to the college coaching ranks to become Notre Dame’s defensive coordinator. According to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, former NFL defensive coordinator James Bettcher will fill the role. After time as the defensive coordinator for the Cardinals and Giants, Bettcher spent last season as a senior defensive assistant in San Francisco.
  • Staying in the AFC North, Baltimore brought in former Texans’ offensive line coach Mike Devlin to become the Ravens’ assistant offensive line coach, according to Wilson. Devlin coached big men for the Jets before Houston and at Toledo before that. The Ravens will certainly welcome the help for an offensive line that frequently had quarterbacks Lamar Jackson and Tyler Huntley scrambling for their lives last year.
  • Lastly, the Chargers have hired 49ers’ kicker Robbie Gould‘s kid brother Chris Gould. The 36-year-old was a former kicker in the Arena Football League and will be the Chargers’ assistant special teams coach, a role he’s held for the past five seasons for the Broncos. Additionally, the Chargers have hired Brendan Nugent as their new offensive line coach. Last year was Nugent’s first year coaching offensive linemen in the NFL in his seventh year with the Saints. He’ll 17 years of NFL coaching experience to Los Angeles.

49ers To Activate Kittle, Gould From IR

The 49ers will have some key players in uniform Sunday against the Cardinals. George Kittle and Robbie Gould will come off IR before Saturday’s roster-setting deadline, Kyle Shanahan said Friday.

Kittle has been down because of a calf injury. The All-Pro tight end attempted to play through the issue in Week 4, but the 49ers opted to shut him down the following week. Gould’s activation became fairly clear after the 49ers waived fill-in Joey Slye earlier this week.

Since signing his big-ticket extension last year, Kittle has struggled to stay on the field. He missed time because of a knee sprain and a fractured foot last season. Those injuries limited Kittle to eight games in 2020. He has missed three thus far this year. This will help a passing attack that may be without Deebo Samuel.

Battling a calf injury, Samuel is questionable for Week 9. Shanahan said his top receiver’s injury worsened this week, via the San Jose Mercury News’ Cam Inman (on Twitter). The 49ers missing Samuel would be rather significant, given his dominance to start the season. Samuel has 819 receiving yards, topping Jerry Rice‘s through-seven-games franchise best. Samuel, of course, joined Kittle on the injury front last season. He missed nine games in 2020.

Shanahan added Jeff Wilson has a chance to make his season debut in Week 9. Previously given a late-November return timetable, Wilson has “kind of taken off,” in his recovery from a foot injury as of late, Shanahan said (per The Athletic’s Matt Barrows, on Twitter). The 49ers re-signed the veteran running back this offseason, but he suffered the injury over the summer.

Minor NFL Transactions: 11/3/21

Today’s minor moves:

Arizona Cardinals

Dallas Cowboys

Houston Texans

Los Angeles Rams

Minnesota Vikings

New York Giants

San Francisco 49ers

49ers To Sign Joey Slye, Place Robbie Gould On IR

The 49ers have agreed to sign kicker Joey Slye (Twitter link via NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero). The veteran kicker will fill in for Robbie Gould, who will miss some period of time with a groin injury. Gould will miss at least three games. The 49ers placed him on IR Tuesday, per NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport (on Twitter), and will move Slye into his roster spot.

The 49ers scratched their longtime kicker just before kickoff Sunday and were forced to use punter Mitch Wishnowsky in double duty. Wishnowsky missed an extra point and a field goal in San Francisco’s loss to Seattle and will give way to a more experienced kicker in Week 5.

Slye, 26, spent some time with the Texans this year, pinch-kicking for Ka’imi Fairbairn. He wound up completing four of his five field goals while going 7-for-8 on extra points. Previously to that, he was with the Panthers, succeeding Graham Gano as the starting kicker in 2019 and keeping the gig through 2020. He improved a bit during his second full season, connecting on 29 of his 36 field goal attempts and 33 of his 36 extra point tries.

His first game with the 49ers will come this week against the Cardinals. This will be Slye’s third team in 2021; Gould, 38, has been San Francisco’s kicker since 2017. He is attached to a four-year, $19MM contract that runs through next season.

49ers Work Out Kickers

The 49ers are looking at a group of kickers to potentially fill in for Robbie Gould. Michael Badgley, Brett Maher, and Joey Slye are among those auditioning while the team awaits word on Gould’s groin injury (Twitter link via NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero).

[RELATED: 49ers Meet With Mychal Kendricks]

Badgley kicked in 34 Chargers games over the past three years but could not beat out the younger Tristan Vizcaino, in training camp. He had a recent cup of coffee with the Titans but that only lasted for a few days. He made nearly 94% of his attempts as a rookie in 2018 — including a 59-yarder — but saw that number dip to 72.7% in 2020.

Slye saw a brief stint as the Texans’ kicker this year, going 4-for-5 on field goals in three games. He was later released as Ka’imi Fairbairn‘s returned to action.

During his time in Dallas, Maher became the first kicker in NFL history to make three 60-plus-yard field goals, accomplishing this feat during the 2018 and ’19 seasons. However, after he made more than 80% of his field goals in 2018, Maher was just 20-for-30 a year later. He did not kick in 2020 and he did not make the Saints’ cut this summer, but he could have a chance to return in SF.

49ers To Sign Robbie Gould To Extension

The 49ers have agreed to a two-year, $7.25MM fully guaranteed extension with kicker Robbie Gould, as Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets. The new deal will tie Gould to SF through the 2022 season. 

Gould, 38, posted arguably the best season of his career in 2018, converting a league-leading 97.1% of his field goal attempts. He made both of his attempts from 50+ yards, and missed only two extra points. At one point, Gould and the 49ers seemed destined for divorce. The veteran requested a trade to bring him closer to his family, which many read as a push to return to Chicago. The 49ers, however, held firm and refused to deal him.

Gould inked a four-year, $19MM extension with the Niners in 2019, but it included an option for the 2021 season. Tomorrow was the deadline to trigger it. Instead, they’ve worked out a fresh pact that could have Gould in place through his 40th birthday.

This hasn’t been a banner year for Gould. Just last week against the Cardinals, Gould missed attempts from 41 and 37 yards out and sent an XP wide right. Still, his 82.6% rate on the year is a step up from last year’s 74.2% showing.

NFC West Rumors: Fitzgerald, Gould, Reed

Speculating about Larry Fitzgerald‘s future has become something of a holiday tradition over the past few seasons. The surefire Hall-of-Famer did say earlier this year that if the Cardinals were to win Super Bowl LV, he would ride off into the sunset, but Arizona’s hopes for its first Lombardi Trophy suffered a major blow in an upset loss to the 49ers last night.

So will Fitz be back in 2021? As Rachel Gossen of ArizonaSports.com writes, head coach Kliff Kingsbury said he believes Fitzgerald could play for another four seasons, but Fitzgerald himself was noncommittal.

“I haven’t really given it much thought to be honest with you,” he said. Though Fitzgerald did add that it will be nice to have fans back in the stands when it’s safe, Kingsbury downplayed the notion that Fitzgerald would return just to receive a proper sendoff from the Cardinals’ faithful.

As we wait to see whether one of the best receivers in NFL history will call it a career, and as the Cards focus on keeping their fading playoff hopes alive, let’s round up a few more notes from the NFC West:

  • The 49ers have a big decision to make on kicker Robbie Gould this week. Per the four-year extension Gould signed in 2019, San Francisco has until January 2 to pick up an option that would guarantee $2.25MM of Gould’s $4.5MM 2021 salary. Gould had hit 90.5% of his field goal attempts heading into last night’s matchup with Arizona, but he missed two FGA’s and a PAT in a 20-12 win that could have been more decisive. However, head coach Kyle Shanahan said the performance will not impact the team’s decision on Gould’s contract. “You got to look at the body of work, and Robbie has been unbelievable,” Shanahan said (Twitter link via Matt Maiocco of NBC Sports Bay Area).
  • Claimed off waivers from the division-rival 49ers in August, Seahawks CB D.J. Reed has been a great find for Seattle. In eight games (six starts), Reed has lined up both in the slot and outside the numbers and has accumulated 49 tackles, two interceptions, and six passes defensed while yielding a modest 77.9 passer rating as the nearest defender (via NFL Next Gen stats). Though the 5-9 Reed does not fit the mold of the big-bodied specimens that Seattle generally prefers at the outside corner positions, Brady Henderson of ESPN.com thinks his presence could make the club more amenable to moving on from contract-year players Quinton Dunbar and Shaquill Griffin. Reed will be entering the final year of his rookie deal in 2021.
  • As Jourdan Rodrigue of The Athletic points out, the Rams would be about $26MM over the 2021 salary cap if the cap is decreased to $175MM as many expect. So while the club can certainly restructure the contracts of players like Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp to create space, it will also have tough decisions to make on pending free agents. Rodrigue posits that, if DC Brandon Staley gets hired as a head coach, he may try to bring safety John Johnson and outside linebacker Leonard Floyd with him, though Los Angeles will doubtlessly prioritize re-ups with both players. Meanwhile, Rodrigue sees players like WR Josh Reynolds and TE Gerald Everett signing elsewhere this offseason.

NFC West Rumors: 49ers, Cooks, Gordon

The 49ers (and certain fantasy owners) may well have to make other plans at tight end this week. George Kittle drew a doubtful designation for San Francisco’s pivotal Week 10 game against Seattle. The All-Pro candidate is battling knee and ankle injuries, and although he played eight games with torn rib cartilage last season, Kittle is likelier than not to miss the nationally televised game. Levine Toilolo and second-year UDFA Ross Dwelley reside as the other tight ends on the 49ers’ roster.

Veteran Garrett Celek could be activated from the PUP list, however. Celek has been dealing with a back injury for months but returned to practice this week, per ESPN.com’s Nick Wagoner (on Twitter). While the 49ers are not against activating Celek for Monday, Matt Barrows of The Athletic notes (subscription required) the team would prefer he go through multiple practice weeks before debuting this season. Dwelley and Toilolo have combined to catch nine passes for 38 yards this season.

Here is the more from San Francisco and the latest from the NFC West:

  • In more promising 49ers injury news, the 49ers may get both of their tackles back this week. With Joe Staley expected to return this week, Mike McGlinchey may join him. The second-year right tackle worked in three limited practices this week. He has been out since Week 5 due to arthroscopic knee surgery. Staley also participated in three limited practices this week. Despite both of San Francisco’s tackles being out for much of the season, the 49ers’ run game ranks second in the NFL.
  • The team’s Chase McLaughlin acquisition will likely lead to game work. Robbie Gould joins Kittle in being given a doubtful status. Gould, who has not missed a game since his 49ers tenure began in 2017, is dealing with a quad injury.
  • In advance of the Rams‘ road assignment against the Steelers, Brandin Cooks has spent time in Pittsburgh because of concussion trouble. Cooks has made multiple trips to Pittsburgh to meet with doctors over the past two weeks, Omar Ruiz of USA Today tweets. The Rams wide receiver remains in concussion protocol and is out for Sunday’s game. Cooks has suffered two concussions this season, one in 2018 and one in Super Bowl LII. The 26-year-old receiver is not considering retirement and still wants to return this season (Instagram link).
  • Josh Gordon‘s Seahawks debut is likely set for Monday night. Despite being on the Patriots’ IR list to start last week, Gordon was not listed on the Seahawks’ injury report. Pete Carroll said there’s a “good chance” the recent waiver pickup plays against the 49ers, per Brady Henderson of ESPN.com (on Twitter). The former All-Pro played in six Patriots games, catching 20 passes for 287 yards and a touchdown.

49ers To Sign K Chase McLaughlin

49ers kicker Robbie Gould suffered a strained quad that could sideline for him Monday night’s game against the Seahawks, so San Francisco is signing fellow kicker Chase McLaughlin, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter links). Gould’s injury is not long-term in nature, per RapSheet, but it could affect his availability for Week 10.

Gould, 36, posted arguably the best season of his career in 2018, converting a league-leading 97.1% of his field goal attempts. He made both of his attempts from 50+ yards, and missed only two extra points. Tagged as a franchise player before agreeing to a four-year extension, Gould’s production has declined this year, as he’s already missed seven field goal attempts in 20 tries.

McLaughlin, meanwhile, is an undrafted rookie free agent who spent time with the Bills before serving as the Chargers’ kicker for the month of October. Playing in relief of the injured Michael Badgley, McLaughlin made six-of-nine field goal attempts and converted all seven of his extra point tries.

West Notes: C. Jones, Gould, Lindsay

The Chiefs and Chris Jones have made no recent progress towards a long-term deal, which means that Kansas City can, if it wants, have Jones play out the 2019 season for a bargain $1.2MM salary (Jones, after all, has to report to the club by August 6 to receive an accrued season toward free agency). However, if the Chiefs want to keep Jones in the fold for the long haul, it will have to pony up some cash soon.

And as Joel Corry of CBS Sports relays in a series of tweets, Jones is not going to come cheap. Corry suggests that Jones is already a $20MM+/year player, and if he performs as well in 2019 as he did in his breakout 2018 campaign, it will be hard to keep him for less than Aaron Donald‘s six-year, $135MM pact with the Rams. And if the Chiefs put the franchise tag on Jones next year and he plays the 2020 season under the tag while still performing at a high level, Khalil Mack money (six years, $141MM) won’t be enough.

The Chiefs learned with Justin Houston that waiting to extend an elite player can become overly costly, and Corry suggests KC should not go that route with Jones.

Now for more from the league’s west divisions:

  • The 49ers and K Robbie Gould agreed to a four-year, $19MM pact yesterday, and San Francisco bucked tradition a bit by fully guaranteeing the first two years of the deal (a total of $10.5MM). And, as Gould said (via ESPN.com), that guarantee was a deal-breaker. He had requested a trade in April, and given the Bears’ desperate need for a kicker, a trade to Chicago made sense, especially since Gould — the Bears’ all-time leading scorer — lives in the Windy City and plans to continue living there forever. He told the 49ers that in order for him to return to the team, he would need two fully-guaranteed years, and he got it.
  • Kyle Fredrickson of the Denver Post says that Broncos RB Phillip Lindsay believes he is ready to fully participate in training camp, which opens next week, after recovering from a wrist injury he suffered late last season. That is in keeping with what we heard in June, but Lindsay concedes that it’s not his decision. It’s still possible that he will remain a limited participant just as he was throughout offseason workouts, at least for awhile. Denver obviously wants to get him on the field as soon as possible, especially since he will be adjusting to a new offense, but the club also does not want to needlessly rush one of its most promising youngsters.
  • The Broncos signed No. 41 overall pick Dalton Risner earlier today, which leaves QB Drew Lock as the club’s only unsigned 2019 draft pick. Lock, the No. 42 overall pick, is looking for an overslot contract, but Denver does not plan to give him one.
  • Yesterday, the Raiders added some guard depth by signing Jonathan Cooper.