SANTA CLARA, Calif. — In search of a kicker to replace free agent Robbie Gould, the San Francisco 49ers turned back to an increasingly familiar trade partner on Friday.
San Francisco acquired kicker Zane Gonzalez from the Carolina Panthers in exchange for a conditional swap of late-round picks in the 2025 NFL draft, the Niners announced.
Gonzalez missed the 2022 season because of a groin injury suffered in the team’s preseason finale. Before that, he was 20 of 22 on field goal attempts and 22 of 23 on extra point tries in 12 games for the Panthers in 2021. In a six-year career with the Cleveland Browns, Arizona Cardinals and Panthers, Gonzalez is 91 of 113 (80.5%) on field goal attempts and 127 of 134 (94.8%) on extra point tries.
The addition of Gonzalez likely signals the end of Gould’s tenure in San Francisco. He was one of the Niners’ first free agent signings after coach Kyle Shanahan and general manager John Lynch took over in 2017. He made 87.5% of his field goals and all 21 of his postseason field goals in six seasons with the Niners.
In early March, Gould told ESPN’s Adam Schefter that he would be kicking elsewhere in 2023 as he prepared to become an unrestricted free agent. While Gould has yet to sign with another team, his price figured to go beyond where the Niners were comfortable.
Gould, 41, had a salary cap number of $5.5 million in 2022 and, with multiple big contracts set to increase in price this year, the Niners preferred not to dive back into that salary range again at kicker.
Gonzalez, 28, has one year remaining on his current deal and is set to count $1.465 million on the Niners’ 2023 salary cap. Given Gonzalez’s recent injury history, the Niners, armed with 11 picks in the NFL draft, still could look to bring in another kicker to compete with him in the offseason and training camp.
Gonzalez’s arrival is the latest in a long line of recent moves bringing former Panthers to the Bay Area.
The 49ers traded for running back Christian McCaffrey in October, hired former Panthers coach Steve Wilks as defensive coordinator in February and signed quarterback Sam Darnold on the opening day of free agency.