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49ers Re-Sign Tavares Gooden, Working To Keep Strong Special Teams Intact

The San Francisco 49ers made a move at the start of free agency, though it's nothing huge and something that could have happened, you know, a couple months ago. The team announced that they've re-signed linebacker Tavares Gooden on a one-year deal. It is somewhat surprising due to the lacking playing time he received in 2012, but it's all likely for minimum dollars, so surprise is limited in that vein.

Gooden did not see the field much on defense, but that's not a huge knock against him. The 49ers had Larry Grant to be their backup inside linebacker behind superstars Patrick Willis and NaVorro Bowman. Not getting playing time against that group of players is nothing to be upset about, by any stretch of the imagination. It's likely the 49ers would have played Gooden if Grant was not available though, as he's had starting experience in the past.

Most of his work came on special teams, where he was part of one of the best groups of special teamers in recent memory. He wasn't one of the core guys that you think about when you consider the impact players (C.J. Spillman and Blake Costanzo come to mind), but anything the 49ers do to keep that group together as a whole can only be a good thing. It's hard to argue with keeping all the pieces of that group together.

There's also a chance that Gooden has a vote of confidence on the defensive side of the ball. Grant has been tendered with an original-round tender, meaning seventh-round, and it's likely he finds some more money elsewhere. The 49ers might consider Gooden a solid backup candidate in the event that Grant is on his way out. He did have plenty of playing time with the Baltimore Ravens before coming to San Francisco, and in fact, many 49ers fans expected to see more of him.