On a line, and a roster, that is short of playoff experience, Goodwin brings to the team not just the wisdom of a man who's been there before, but a man who's gone all the way and won the big one.
This past Sunday, Goodwin spoke to the media about what it was like to return to the Superdome in hopes of obtaining his second ring:
"I love the city of New Orleans. It's definitely a place I want to come back and visit often. To be able to go in the Superdome where I already have a lot great memories and a chance to make another great memory, is something I would always cherish. Hopefully we can get the job done but it's definitely a special feeling to be back here in New Orleans playing in this game."
In 2010, one year after his first ring, Goodwin had made it to the Pro Bowl as a reserve with New Orleans, but in the off-season he became a free agent as the lockout endured into summer; and had a tough time deciding between staying with the Saints and moving to San Francisco:
"Definitely one of the toughest decisions of my life. I really loved being here. I love the city of New Orleans. Even that day on, I changed my mind twice. It was definitely a really tough decision."
"I flew out there with my wife. I was at one of their practices and I went out to eat with Coach Harbaugh and Greg Roman. That night I decided I was going to come and in the morning I changed my mind. Then on my way to the airport to fly back to New Orleans, I ended up changing my mind again."
After helping to form a birthing legacy with the Saints, Goodwin came to San Francisco with hopes of reestablishing a very old legacy:
"I was a 49er fan growing up. Steve Young got the Super Bowl ring so that's the main thing that stands out to me. Back then, that's when each and every year they had a shot of going to the Super Bowl. A great team and a great group of players."
Much like Colin Kaepernick had dreams growing of playing for the Niners, Goodwin is cherishing the opportunity to win a Lombardi with his "childhood team":
"...[it's] something that's special to me. Hopefully I can find a way to win the Super Bowl with my childhood team."
Something I did not know about one of the oldest members of the roster: he was a 49er fan as a kid. I cannot imagine any greater feeling than being able to win a Super Bowl with the team you grew up cheering for. Goodwin admits as much:
"I just told [Coach Harbaugh] it's an unbelievable feeling, a feeling that's hard to put into words. Winning the NFC Championship is great, but winning the Super Bowl is probably a 100 times better. I shared that we want to come down here and it's a business trip, not necessarily to have fun. It's to win a football game. We have to be able to stay focused throughout the week and try to accomplish the goal we said we wanted to do in training camp."
The experience Goodwin brings to the table should help the team stay focused on the next step in front of them: have a good day of practice today, another good one tomorrow, and keep at it until a good day of football this Sunday.
And when Sunday comes, it's just a matter of getting those opening kickoff jitters out of the way:
"From my experience, the first three plays, when I played a couple of years ago, was kind of a blur. After that first three, it just became football again. Everybody was playing as hard as they could but at the end of the day it's still football. Just preparing during the week and focusing on the task at hand. At the end of the day it's still a football game."
But that isn't something anyone believes star quarterback, Colin Kaepernick, will have any trouble with. He has been poised under pressure despite an early mistake against Green Bay and an early deficit in Atlanta.
As Colin says, it's not pressure when you're prepared for it; and Goodwin notes The Kid is hard at work each day, preparing:
"It's amazing. He was the backup quarterback a couple of months ago. Now he is the guy that's going up on the walls in stadiums. Hats off to him. In the two seasons I've been in San Francisco, he's been a hard worker. He's a guy that just about every morning when I pull up to the facilities he's already out on the field doing extra stuff. He works his tail off and he deserves every bit of success."
Thus, the pressure has yet to get to our new young gun in any situation:
"We lost to the Rams and had a couple of negative plays happen, and Colin came right back. It seems like anytime something bad happens he comes right back and does something great. Look at the Green Bay game. One thing I've always said about him from the start is he comes off as a guy that has a lot of confidence. I'm not just saying that, you can feel it by the way he acts and talks."
In what has been a surprising two years for the 49er organization, it seems fitting that a sudden change at quarterback would prove a catalyst towards the dream of a 6th Lombardi.
Certainly, two years ago, when Jim Harbaugh first entered the NFL scene and Goodwin first became a 49er, it's not something anyone would have envisioned:
"Going into San Francisco I knew we had a lot of talent; it was just a question of how fast we could put it together. To now, playing in the NFC Championship game and then into the Super Bowl, can I honestly say that I thought that'd happen? No. It's definitely a team I had a lot of respect for, especially in terms of their defense playing against them. Fortunately we've been able to put the talent together and become a winning team. Hats off to these guys. Can I say I could have predicted this right away? No."
But, as I have (shamelessly) shown, predictions are for "experts" and they usually don't come true.
All that matters is the team is here, with a chance at greatness.
For Goodwin, that means a chance at cementing his own legacy with a second group of "mighty men":
"My [first] ring is in South Carolina. It's locked up in South Carolina. Last year when I first got to San Francisco a couple of guys got to see it but it has been in South Carolina. Hopefully I can pull it out with another ring in a couple of months. It's something I take a lot of pride in but at the same time it feels weird being on another team with another team's logo on [the first ring]."
Hopefully, by the stroke of midnight on the 3rd of February, as Sunday bleeds into Monday and the 2012 season becomes the 2013 offseason, Jonathan Goodwin can wear his new ring for the first day of the rest of his life as a proud and faithful San Francisco 49er.
One. Game. Left.
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