49ers Robbie Gould's birthday comes with NFL honor

SANTA CLARA – Robbie Gould’s 35th birthday Wednesday came with an early-morning present: the NFC Special Teams Player of the Week award.

Add it to all the feel-good takeaways Gould got Sunday from his revengeful and rewarding return to Chicago. He made all five of his field-goal attempts, including a 24-yard game winner in the final seconds, to give the 49ers a 15-14 win over the Bears.

Here is another honor Gould deserves: best 49ers free-agent acquisition of 2017. As Phil Dawson’s replacement, Gould is signed through 2018, when his base salary climbs $500,000 to $2 million, according to NFL Players Association figures.

Gould forged his career in Chicago and became the Bears all-time leading scorer from 2005-15. He maintains his permanent home there. He was focused on having a successful business trip Sunday, and he did.

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Gould had two footballs to pack for his trip back to the Bay Area: a ceremonial game ball from coach Kyle Shanahan, and a ball Gould wasn’t 100 percent sure was the one he kicked for the game-winning points.

After his teammates chanting "Rob-bie! Rob-bie!" and Shanahan gave him his prize, Gould broke down the winning locker room with the following speech (as shown on the 49ers website):

"I mean this: this means a lot to me. You don’t know how hard it was to come back here. Harder than I thought," began Gould, who then thanked his special teams coaches and holder (Bradley Pinion) and long snapper (Kyle Nelson).

"… But this ball isn’t about me. I told you last night to find your ‘Why?’ It wasn’t ugly. It wasn’t pretty. We won how we had to win.

"But we have such a nice ceiling, man, and we haven’t even got there yet. The cool thing is I told you to find it, get your ‘Why?’ We’ve got four more of these. Let people know. I love you guys. It’s a brotherhood.’

"Brotherhood on three: one, two, three – brotherhood!"

Gould is the first 49ers player to win an NFC Player of the Week honor since 2014 (linebacker Chris Borland), although linebacker Reuben Foster won NFC Defensive Rookie of the Month for November last week.