"This means a lot to me," Robbie Gould told his teammates in the locker room while holding a game ball. "You don't know how hard it was to come back here – harder than I thought."
That speech came after Gould drilled five field goals against his former team in San Francisco's 15-14 win over the Chicago Bears. His fifth make was a game-winner that sailed through the uprights at Soldier Field with just :04 left on the clock.
Gould, whose celebrations are at most tame and more commonly emotionless all together, erupted in emotion. The kicker pumped both fists and unmistakably stared squarely at the Bears sideline. It was sweet revenge (my word, not his) for a man who spent more than a decade in the "Windy City" only to get cut in 2015.
"This one means a lot to me in a lot of different ways," said Gould, who is still Chicago's all-time leading scorer (1,207 points). "I was pretty excited. To come in here and get a win like that and kick a game-winner, I don't think I could have written that any better to be honest with you."
The entire team was fired up for Gould. That much was evident during the postgame hoopla. Gould's speech was preceded by Kyle Shanahan handing him the game ball and a resounding, "Robbie! Robbie! Robbie!" chant from the rest of the players.
"For Robbie (to go) 5-for-5 on those field goals and for Robbie coming back to where he spent most of his career is a huge day for him and a perfect time for him to do that for us," Shanahan said.
Gould's performance against the Bears not only powered the 49ers to their second win of 2017, but it also etched his name into the franchise's record books. He's now the first kicker in 49ers history to make five field goals in two separate games in a single season (Week 4 vs. the Arizona Cardinals).
The NFL has nominated Gould for its “Castrol EDGE Clutch Performer of the Week” award. Gould's case for the Pro Bowl is getting stronger as well. He ranks sixth in the league in field goal percentage (93 %) and fourth in field goals made (26). With four games left, there's still plenty of time for the kicker to punch his ticket to Orlando.
But even more top of mind for Gould is his team's chance to build momentum. A stretch of "W's" to close the year would have players and fans alike feeling the positive vibes heading into 2018.
"We've talked about putting a run together going into next year," Gould said. "It's a total team win."