Once believed to be the successor of Ravens’ future Hall of Fame linebacker Ray Lewis in Baltimore, the San Francisco 49ers signed linebacker Tavares Gooden to a one-year contract, according to team’s press release.
Gooden is a talented football player and understanding that the, then-32 years old, aging, but effective Lewis (now 36) was approaching retirement, Gooden was hoped to carry No. 52’s torch. Clearly, due to the injuries he sustained over his four-year NFL career, Gooden has not lived up to his full potential.
The Ravens released the 6-2, 242-pound linebacker from the University of Miami in 2011 and signed with the 49ers shortly after.
Since joining the 49ers, Gooden has been a mainstay for their special teams as he played in all 16 regular season games and both postseason contests last season, registering 12 special teams tackles.
“Tavares was an integral part of our success on special teams last year,” said 49ers General Manager Trent Baalke, via team’s press release. “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.”
The 27-year old native of Ft. Lauderdale, FL, was a third round (71st overall) selection by the Ravens in the 2008 NFL Draft. He has played in 41 career games (12 starts), recorded 67 tackles on defense and 34 tackles on special teams. In 2010, Gooden appeared in 10 games and recorded 14 tackles for the Ravens.
He started all 12 games in which he appeared in 2009 with the Ravens, and posted 52 tackles.
Gooden’s position coach in Baltimore from 2008-09 is the 49ers’ defensive coordinator, Vic Fangio, who served under Ravens’ head coach John Harbaugh, brother of 49ers’ head coach Jim Harbaugh, at the time.
If Gooden can stay healthy for the 2012 season with the 49ers, a huge payday should soon follow.