SANTA CLARA — Four years ago, Robbie Gould’s exit strategy was blocked when the 49ers used their franchise tag on the veteran kicker.

Tuesday, Gould avoided a repeat scenario and is heading for free agency.

The 49ers did not place the franchise tag on any free agent ahead of Tuesday’s 1 p.m. deadline, a team source confirmed.

Gould, 40, made news over the weekend as reports surfaced that he planned to enter free agency with the intent of kicking for another franchise next season.

Among those slated to join Gould in free agency are a slew of starters from last season’s NFC runner-up squad.

Those include quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, right tackle Mike McGlinchey, defensive back Jimmie Ward, linebacker Azeez Al-Shaair, safety Tashaun Gipson Sr., center Jake Brendel, guard Daniel Brunskill, cornerback Emmanuel Moseley, and defensive linemen Samson Ebukam, Charles Omenihu and Hassan Ridgeway.

Garoppolo, 31, could not be franchise tagged because of a clause he asked for in taking a pay cut before last season. He missed the final eight games with a foot fracture.

Unrestricted free agents are eligible Monday to commence talks with other teams. Contracts and trades cannot become official until Wednesday at 1 p.m., although the 49ers can re-sign their own free agents before then.

Gould is the only player to draw the 49ers’ franchise tag since general manager John Lynch and coach Kyle Shanahan arrived in 2017. Tagged players in previous regimes: Steve Young (1993), Terrell Owens (1999), Julian Peterson (2004-05), Aubrayo Franklin (2010) and Dashon Goldson (2012).

Gould arrived as part of the 49ers’ initial free agency class in 2017. His 21 playoff field goals with the 49ers are the most in their franchise history. He made 161 of 184 field-goal attempts and 221-of-230 point-after kicks the past six seasons. He’s never missed a postseason kick, and he made all four field goal tries in the 49ers’ divisional win over the Dallas Cowboys two months ago.

Gould replaced punter Mitch Wishnowsky as the 49ers’ kickoff specialist. Earning a $4 million salary last season, he had 47-of-95 kickoffs result in touchbacks (4-of-12 in the playoffs). The franchise-tag cost for a kicker this year is $5.4 million.

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Source:: The Mercury News


49ers don’t use franchise tag, vaulting key starters into free agency

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