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2011 49ers Grades: Jonathan Goodwin

So, the discussion about Tavares Gooden wasn't the thrilling back-and-forth we were all expecting, but today we're going to get to someone who had a little more of an impact in 2011. When I say "a little more of an impact," I mean "started all 16 games and played for for many of them." I'm talking, of course, about center Jonathan Goodwin.

Goodwin was brought in as a free agent when David Baas departed for free agency after just one season as a starter. He joined the New York Giants and our San Francisco 49ers were in the market for a center. Normally, they'd have taken Adam Snyder, switched around some wires and re-programmed him (originally dubbed 'O-Line Bot 2.0) to play center, but he was taking over for Chilo Rachal (originally programmed 'Mauling Run Blocker Bot' before crashing in a failed firmware update) at right guard.

So the 49ers signed Goodwin, a former Pro Bowler, to a three-year, $10.9 million contract and he was immediately supposed to solidify the offensive line and become a leader. Did that happen? We'll find out after the jump.

Goodwin got off to a slow start, but then again, so did the entire offensive line. With no offseason to speak of, it was tough for Goodwin, a long-time member of the New Orleans Saints, to adjust to the new play book. He was muscled around quite a bit to start the season and this was a very worrying trait.

He especially didn't block well double-teaming with Mike Iupati, and again, that was a worrying trait. But Goodwin really did pick things up as the season progressed. The whole line did, but in my opinion, that starts with Goodwin and ends with Joe Staley. If those two can get better, then the whole line will, regardless of Anthony Davis on the right side. As it happens, both of those players started getting much better, and Goodwin worked into a groove with Snyder at right guard.

The 49ers started using Goodwin more creatively, using him on more complicated blocking schemes to handle guys he wasn't even looking at while they rolled Iupati around him to lead block for Frank Gore. Goodwin is very versatile and started to look lighter and lighter on his feet in that regard, and really started dominating the point of attack. He didn't finish the season as the best center in the league or anything like that, but he became a rock and was one of the only "consistent" performers following the first few weeks.