49er of Week 18: Safety Tashaun Gipson Sr.

Jan 10, 2023, 11:00 AM | Updated: 11:08 am
Tashaun Gipson Sr. #31 of the San Francisco 49ers celebrates an interception during the third quart...
SANTA CLARA, CALIFORNIA - JANUARY 08: Tashaun Gipson Sr. #31 of the San Francisco 49ers celebrates an interception during the third quarter of the game against the Arizona Cardinals at Levi's Stadium on January 08, 2023 in Santa Clara, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
(Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

Week 18 was more like it for the San Francisco 49ers, crushing the Arizona Cardinals, 38-13, in the regular-season finale. The defense for the Red & Gold came back into form, forcing four turnovers over their divisional foes to close out the regular season.

Safety Tashaun Gipson Sr. was the benefactor of two of those turnovers, snagging two interceptions off quarterback David Blough. Coming to the Bay Area late in training camp, Gipson has been a shrewd acquisition, forcing into a starting role with Jimmie Ward’s preseason hamstring injury.

He hasn’t looked back since.

Finishing Week 18 with two total tackles, two INTs and two passes defended, the 32-year-old former Pro Bowl player has turned back the clock under his one of his former coaches, Kyle Shanahan.

“We wanted to bring him in with depth, we had one of the best safeties in the league last year with [DB] Jimmie Ward and then when Jimmie got hurt and we knew there was a chance that his playing time was going to go up and we were glad to get him,” the 49ers head coach said postgame Sunday. “I was with ‘Gip’ in Cleveland, which I think was his rookie or second year and I thought he was such a good player then, I haven’t gotten to be with him since then, but just following him his whole career, playing against him in Jacksonville and Chicago and he’s been such a good player for a long time. I thought we were very fortunate that he was available when he was and he’s come in here and I feel like kind of the wisdom of our defense.”

A journeyman defensive back, “Gip” has spent time with the Cleveland Browns, Jacksonville Jaguars, Houston Texans and Chicago Bears over his NFL tenure. Now in his 11th professional season, Tashaun Gipson has the most interceptions (5) since 2014, his lone appearance in the Pro Bowl. He also has 61 combined tackles and eight pass defenses, a season-high since 2020 and 2019, respectively.

A training camp depth add turned into quality starter, “Gip” has been everything and more for San Francisco this season. Play that comes from a humbling moment in any football player’s career.

“It’s so humbling because there were a lot of times, and I sit here and my family could attest to it, where I’d be lying to you if I said I didn’t lose a little faith sitting at training camp,” the 32-year-old admitted. “Going into preseason three, I was at home with my kids. It was my first time spending my birthday at home, and I didn’t envision being at home on my birthday in August. So to be here now, man, it’s just glory to God because I came into the right situation at the right time. And everything just worked out in God’s plan.”

Pairing him with a first-year starter in Talanoa Hufanga, Gipson has both learned and helped nurture the 49ers’ secondary this season. Despite his best days likely on the back-burner, the California native has shined in his role in Northern California, having arguably his best year as a pro after coming off the street in August.

“I couldn’t be around a better group of men, a better group of coaches,” Tashaun Gipson said. This atmosphere here, the family, the organization and just the locker room. They accepted me from day one. It wasn’t any ill will or anything like that. [S Talanoa] Hufanga, I truly have love for him, he brought me in, helped me understand the defense, and he took me under his wing. As crazy as it sounds, I’m 10 years older than him, but he truly did. And it’s just been a match made in heaven. It’s the most fun year of my career and I can truly say that. I’ve been on some teams where we had a little success, man, but this truly is the most fun year of my career. And, you know, why stop now? We have so much more football left to play. Perfect storybook ending for everybody if we can continue to keep this going.”


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