Taybor Pepper

What Pepper remembers most about Gould's mentorship on 49ers

NBC Universal, Inc.

SANTA CLARA — In announcing his retirement this week, former 49ers kicker Robbie Gould pointed to one moment from his career that stood out.

On Jan. 22, 2022, on a frigid night in Green Bay, the 49ers moved into position for a 45-yard field goal attempt on the final play of regulation against the Packers.

Looking back on it, 49ers long-snapper Taybor Pepper recalls that nothing stood out about the moments before the kick.

And that quality is what he remembers most about working with Gould.

“His daily commitment was to do everything possible he could to put the team in the best situation,” Pepper told NBC Sports Bay Area.

“The best thing about him was that he approached everything the same way. It was that level of consistency that allowed him to have an 18-year career.”

Gould wrote about that moment at Lambeau Field in a post at The Players’ Tribune to announce his retirement:

“Snow was falling, and the ground was soft. It wasn’t ideal, but none of that mattered; as a kicker, it was one of those moments I lived for every time I stepped on the field. And then….

“We nailed it right down the middle.

“Just like that, the game was over.”

The kick ended the season for Aaron Rodgers and the top-seeded Packers, while the 49ers moved on to the NFC Championship Game against the eventual Super Bowl-champion Los Angeles Rams.

Gould played his first 11 seasons with the Chicago Bears. His wife and three young boys mostly remained in the Midwest while he played for the 49ers for six seasons.

“I knew it was hard for him to be away from family,” Pepper said. “But he was still able to put so much detail  into football while also being the best dad he could be halfway across the country.”

Gould made 161 of 184 field-goal attempts in the regular season for a franchise-best 87.5 percent success rate. The 49ers selected Jake Moody in the third round of the 2023 NFL Draft to officially close the door on Gould's time with the organization.

He told NBC Sports Bay Area in July he planned to continue his football career. He had a tryout last month with the New York Giants, but remained unsigned as a free agent.

Gould turned 41 on Wednesday. He announced his retirement the next day.

His career 86.46-percent accuracy on field goals ranks No. 9 in NFL history. He is eighth all time with 447 field goals and 10th with 1,961 points scored.

Gould’s biggest achievement was his ability to make kicks under pressure. He was 29 of 29 on field-goal attempts and 39 of 39 on extra points in the postseason.

“I was in the playoffs with him twice and we made it to the NFC Championship Game twice,” Pepper said. “He never brought it up, but I knew he never missed in the playoffs.”

That streak continued with Pepper delivering the ball 8 yards backward to holder Mitch Wishnowsky. With Pepper snapping, Gould was 14 of 14 in the postseason on field-goal attempts.

“When I think about the pressure of the playoffs,” Pepper said, “for me it was more like, ‘I’m not going to be the reason why he misses a field goal in the playoffs.’

“I feel like I’m at my best when I’m doing it for other people. I wanted to step up so he could continue to have that awesome stat.”

Pepper played his final season at Michigan State in 2015, but it took him a while to find steady employment in the NFL. He played four games for Green Bay in 2017 before a full season with the Miami Dolphins in 2019.

The 49ers signed him after four games in 2020 when their previous long-snapper, Kyle Nelson, inexplicably lost his touch.

“He was always very encouraging of me,” Pepper said of Gould. “I knew he trusted me, and that meant the world to me. That’s what pushed me.

“I’d only played one full season before I got here. As the season goes on, you get a little lackadaisical, and he was always there to put me on the right track. He’s one of the greatest mentors in my life, truly.”

Download and follow the 49ers Talk Podcast

Contact Us