49ers sign Tavares Gooden to 1-year contract
Mar/14/12 08:51 AM Filed in: Tavares Gooden
Patrick Willis and NaVorro Bowman officially have a backup under contract.
A few minutes into the start of free agency this afternoon, the 49ers announced the signing of linebacker and special-team standout Tavares Gooden, 27, to a one-year contract. Gooden, Willis and Bowman are the team’s only inside linebackers. Restricted free agent Larry Grant is expected to sign elsewhere after performing well in place of Willis during a three-start stretch in 2011.
Gooden, who played just 13 defensive snaps last year, made his mark on special teams where he ranked third with 12 tackles. Blake Costanzo, another special-teams star, is a free agent.
“Tavares was an integral part of our success on special teams last year,” general manager Trent Baalke said. “He brought an energy to our locker room that was evident on the field as well. We are pleased to have him back with us for another season, and look forward to his continued growth as a player.”
A third-round pick of the Ravens in 2008, Gooden has played extensively at linebacker during his career, starting 12 games in Baltimore in 2008. Defensive coordinator Vic Fangio was Gooden’s position coach with the Ravens from 2008-09.
Gooden said he wanted to return to the 49ers, particularly in light of their 20-17 overtime loss to the Giants in the NFC Championship Game.
“I wanted to be here, having a salty taste in my mouth after last season,” he said. “I just felt like there was unfinished business.”