The last few weeks have afforded us an extended introduction to Chase McLaughlin, who didn't really need an introduction, seeing as he'd played for other NFL teams in 2019, but got one on a national stage anyway.
That national stage also brought him some pain. After drilling his first three field goals, including one to send the game to overtime, McLaughlin missed his final attempt of the night in the extra period. The Seattle Seahawks made their attempt later to win 27-24.
He might soon be in search of another new employer, though, because veteran Robbie Gould is on the cusp of returning.
"I think he's real close," 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said of Gould on Monday, via NBC Sports Bay Area. "Like I said last week, if it was probably another position he would have gone. I know Robbie wants to go, but we're going to be smart with that and we're going to make sure that he is 100 percent and I think he's getting very close to there. I know he was close to that last week so we'll see how he is here on Wednesday."
Gould's quadriceps injury has kept him out of commission since Week 10, but McLaughlin has filled in admirably. San Francisco has won two of three in that stretch and hasn't missed Gould since that disappointing finish on national television.
A career 86.7 percent on field goal tries, Gould is in the midst of a career-worst season, making just 65 percent of his attempts in 2019. One must wonder, though, how much his injury affected his performance. Returning fully healthy could help turn around that percentage, which is very uncharacteristic of the rest of Gould's 15-year career.
There's a certain peace of mind that can only be attained by having a dependable kicker on the roster, though -- just ask John Harbaugh how well he sleeps when he thinks the game will come down to his kicker. San Francisco will soon enjoy a familiar special-teams serenity as it enters the stretch run toward the NFC's top seed.