Could Familiar Face Be the Answer to Bears Kicking Woes in 2021?

Chicago Bears 49ers kicker Robbie Gould

Getty Kicker Robbie Gould of the San Francisco 49ers

The Chicago Bears still don’t have a reliable kicker, which is equal parts depressing and baffling, particularly when considering the much-lambasted kicking competition held at Halas Hall last year. When Eddy Piñeiro beat out all challengers and had a solid rookie season in 2019, it looked like the Bears had finally found their kicker. He hit 82.1 percent of his field goals, playing in all 16 games.

The problem is, Piñeiro has yet to see the field in 2020. Cairo Santos, who hit the 38-yard game winner against the Buccaneers Week 5, has been serviceable, but his range is sketchy beyond 40 yards, and it’s clear head coach Matt Nagy doesn’t trust him. Nagy has also been mum about Piñeiro’s return, leaving the team’s current situation at kicker a question mark yet again.

ALL the latest Bears news straight to your inbox! Subscribe to the Heavy on Bears newsletter here!

The Bears could have a chance to reunite with their former kicker in 2021, however, and it will be interesting to see if they make a move in that direction.

Robbie Gould Could Be Cap Casualty for 49ers in 2021

In his first season with the Bears, Gould made 77.8 percent of his field goals. That jumped to 88.9 percent his second season in 2006, and he earned All-Pro status that year. He went on to become Chicago’s all-time leading scorer, and remains beloved amongst the fan base.

The 49ers could save a good deal of cash by cutting Gould next year, and considering the question marks surrounding the 2021 salary cap, that’s a definite possibility.

San Francisco signed Gould to a four-year $19 million deal in 2019, but there is a built-in out for the 49ers that takes effect in 2021. The Bears chose to move on from Gould after the 2015 season — a move they have since regretted a hundred times over — and he spent a year with the Giants before catching on in San Francisco, where he has spent the last four seasons. He may not be spending a fifth with his current team, however.

According to 49ers Webzone, Gould is one of the players San Francisco will most likely part ways with due to salary cap limitations:

“When up against the pinch of the cap, special teams is often the first spot looked at. The 49ers likely saw the pinch coming when they negotiated Gould’s contract. The 2021 and 2022 seasons are option years that the 49ers have until the final week of this season to pick up. They could save $5.25 million in 2021 by not exercising the option … While Gould remains one of the top kickers in the NFL, the 49ers could save substantial money by exploring other options. Even veteran options would save the 49ers money. Dan Bailey made 27 of 29 field goals last season and has an AAV of just $3.33 million, for example. Or, to the delight of fans, the 49ers could spend a mid-round draft pick on a kicker similar to what they did in the 2019 draft when they took punter Mitch Wishnowsky in the fourth round.”

Follow the Heavy on Bears Facebook page, where you can weigh in on all the latest Bears-related breaking news, rumors, content and more!

Would Bears Shell Out Money for a Veteran Kicker in 2021?

Clearly, Niner Nation doesn’t value Robbie ‘Solid’ Gould the same way Bears Nation does — but how much is Gould still valued in Halas Hall? That’s the key question.

Could Gould come home to Chicago? Absolutely, and he has set the groundwork for it himself, going on record saying he wants to retire a Chicago Bear — but he may have to be willing to take a pay cut, because the Bears won’t have a ton of money to throw his way. Considering how far he went out of his way to let the Bears know what they meant to him just last year, though,  that’s certainly in the realm of possibility.

Gould will be 38 this December, so he’ll absolutely have some gas left in the tank. He has hit 86.8 percent of his field goal attempts and 97.7 percent of his extra points over his career, and he certainly knows how to kick in the unforgiving elements at Soldier Field.

Piñeiro has the bigger leg, and he has youth going for him, but he’s not helping the Bears much from the sidelines. If his health continues to be a concern, the Bears should monitor Gould’s situation in 2021 carefully.

READ NEXT: Analysts Beg Bears to Trade for Struggling Young QB