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BRADENTON, Fla. — Robbie Gould recently reached out to Joey Slye after the Panthers’ young kicker missed two extra points and a late-game, 28-yard field goal attempt in a 34-31 loss at New Orleans.

Gould, 37, spoke with the 23-year-old because they are members of a unique NFL fraternity that can go from celebrated to castigated quicker than you can say “wide right.”

“I think in the community that we’re in,” Gould said, “truthfully, no fan, no reporter, no family member can truly understand it.”

Yes, Gould, a 15th-year veteran, has been there before. Actually, he’s hanging out there right now.

On the heels of the best two-season stretch by a kicker in NFL history, Gould is enduring a nightmare year that’s included four long snappers, a quadriceps injury that sidelined him for three games, and as many missed field goals (eight) in 22 attempts as he had in his previous 106 tries entering 2019.

Last year, Gould, the sixth-most accurate kicker in league history, made 33 of 34 kicks and led the NFL in field goal percentage. This season, his percentage (63.6) ranks 34th of 35 qualified kickers.

Head coach Kyle Shanahan said his confidence hasn’t wavered in Gould, who missed three kicks (72 of 75) in his first two seasons with the team.

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“All those misses this year haven’t been totally his fault,” Shanahan said. “I know he’s had some that have been, but others have been other guys: Whether it’s the snapper, the hold, and things like that. We’ve had a couple blocked.”

Gould has seen two kicks blocked, three long-range misses (57, 55 and 52 yards) and missed a 45-yarder at rainy Washington in laughably poor field conditions.

Robbie Goul of the San Francisco 49ers prepares to kick a field goal to tie the game against the Baltimore Ravens on Dec. 1.
Robbie Goul of the San Francisco 49ers prepares to kick a field goal to tie the game against the Baltimore Ravens on Dec. 1.
Photo: Scott Taetsch / Getty Images
Still, after Gould requested a trade in the offseason while declining to sign the franchise tag, the 49ers opened their wallet because he’d established a standard of near-perfection. Gould signed a four-year deal that made him the league’s second-highest paid kicker. He has fully guaranteed base salaries totaling $7.5 million over the next two seasons.

“The season hasn’t been what you want for it to be or hope for it to be,” Gould said. “That doesn’t mean we can’t do well down the stretch.”

What’s happened to Mr. Automatic? Gould pointed to a lack of continuity for some issues.

The 49ers’ longtime long snapper, Kyle Nelson, was suspended for the first six games and the 49ers used Colin Holba (two games), Jon Condo (one game) and Garrison Sanborn (three games) to open the season. In addition, rookie punter Mitch Wishnowsky has served as Gould’s new holder.

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