2011 49ers Grades: Tavares Gooden

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - DECEMBER 04: Tavares Gooden #56 of the San Francisco 49ers celebrates after making a tackled on a kick off during their game against the St. Louis Rams at Candlestick Park on December 4, 2011 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

Something tells me this grades post will be a little bit less controversial than the one that went up earlier this morning about Dashon Goldson. We're going through the entire roster so occasionally, we'll get to a player who is a little hard to grade, but we should be able to make due. Today, we're going to look at linebacker Tavares Gooden.

Gooden was brought in during the offseason and at three or four points this past season, I was under the assumption that our San Francisco 49ers had cut him. I don't know why, I just think I was expecting a little more out of the guy. I mean, he's a linebacker that came from the Baltimore Ravens ... didn't it work out so well when we got Thaddeus Gibson from the Pittsburgh Steelers?

Anyway, Gooden didn't play much on defense this past season. He recorded one tackle, and took awhile to adjust to the defensive and special teams playbook. At the end of the season, he had 12 special teams tackles and was a steady player with the core group. I don't know that I'd say he was of vital important, but he's a fast, athletic player with a lot of strength. He doesn't miss tackles on special teams and can generally get through his man more often than naught.

The biggest question going forward with Gooden is whether or not he can actually get on the field and take some defensive snaps. I've heard other folks speak highly of him, especially when he was in Baltimore, and the 49ers might need him to play a backup role if they do bring him back. Larry Grant could be on his way out as he looks for more money and, more importantly, a place to start.

He's a free agent and I'd expect that the 49ers will offer him a minimum-type deal and bring him back for continuities sake. And I'd be OK with bringing him back, but I do feel as though the 49ers need to bring in some sort of backup inside linebacker, preferably a veteran, because I'm not comfortable with Gooden in that role given what we've seen this far.

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