Some 49ers fans simply could not watch.
Others, whether on location in New Orleans or in front of their televisions, experienced changes to their blood pressure and sweaty palms.
Robbie Gould, however, says he felt none of those physiological reactions.
“Nothing,” Gould said on 49ers Talk. “I walk out onto the field knowing I’m going to make the kick.”
Gould, 37, a 16-year NFL veteran kicker in his fourth season with the 49ers, delivered the organization one of its most memorable regular-season victories when he calmly drilled a 30-yard field goal as time expired for a 48-46 victory over the New Orleans Saints.
The 49ers' win served as a springboard for the team to claim the NFC West title and earn home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.
The atmosphere will be a whole lot different when the 49ers return to New Orleans on Sunday. The 49ers are 4-5 and in danger of being left behind in the NFC playoff picture.
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Also, the Superdome will not be rocking as it was a year ago. Approximately 6,000 fans will be allowed inside due to COVID-19 restrictions.
Gould ranks No. 7 all-time in the NFL in field-goal accuracy at 86.9 percent. He is No. 18 on the league’s all-time scoring list with 1,695 points.
Gould has provided his teams with a lot of important points through the years, but the three he supplied to beat the Saints last season rank on his short list of fine moments.
“That game specifically because of how we won and how much of a track meet it was,” Gould said. “I think it gave this team a lot of confidence because we’d had a lot of guys injured leading up to that point.
“We’d lost a couple of games battling through with guys filling in for some key positions and I think those guys played in those moments understood, ‘I can fill in and do what I need to do.’ And I think it also gave the coaches a lot of respect for those guys because they knew how prepared they were.”
Gould watched near the kicking net on the 49ers’ sideline when Jimmy Garoppolo and the offense took over at their own 25-yard line with :53 remaining.
Things looked bleak for Gould to even get a chance to win it until tight end George Kittle caught a short pass on a fourth-and-2 situation and rumbled 39 yards down the field. Another 15 yards were added at the end for the play when Kittle was finally dragged down by his facemask.
After Garoppolo took a knee and a timeout was called with :02 remaining, Gould was called on to win the game.
There are few positions in sports that find themselves as regularly in pressurized spots as kickers.
Gould is uniquely qualified to offer self-help to a basketball player toeing the free-throw line in the closing seconds, as well as an individual entering a boardroom for the presentation of his life. Or even jobs in which there is a lot more at stake can apply Gould's mindset.
“It comes down to preparation,” Gould said.
Gould said his most difficult days come on Wednesdays and Thursdays at the 49ers’ practice facility in Santa Clara. Those are the days in which he considers all the scenarios with which he might be faced on Sunday.
He considers weather and other outside influences. He studies the challenges the opposition will place in front of him. He meticulously goes through every conceivable situation that could come up in the game.
And he does it all just to gain more confidence for all the possibilities in case the game comes down to his right foot.
“So that when we get to a game, it’s not the first time I’m going to see it or the first time I’m going to go through it,” he said.
Then, he said he does not over-think the scenario that comes up at the end of a game or place any more importance on that kick as one he attempts earlier in a game.
“I don’t think a lot,” Gould said. “I just treat every kick like it’s a game-winner because if I miss a first-quarter field goal and we’re down five, we’re driving at the end of the game to win it with a field goal and not a touchdown.”
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NOTE: Gould donates $500 for every field goal to benefit pediatric cancer. His goal with RG9 Kicks for Kids is to raise $50,000 through the end of the season. Click here to make a donation.