In a perfect world, the San Francisco 49ers would obviously love to retain both Larry Grant and Tavares Gooden. However, reality tells us different, and in all likelihood one will be let go. GM Trent Baalke will have a very tough decision to make regarding these two vital players. Let us take a look on the pros and cons of each player, that will help us come to a better conclusion on which player is more valuable, reliable, and sensible.
Grant first broke into the league as a seventh-round draft pick (214th overall) in the 2008 NFL Draft. Although initially drafted by the 49ers, Grant would eventually get his first NFL start as a member of the St. Louis Rams, after being claimed off waivers that very same year. What started as a perfect story, as Grant attended City College of San Francisco, before finishing his career at Ohio State, was short lived. However, in the end, Grant eventually gravitated back to the city by the bay, re-signing with the 49ers in time for the 2011 season. Playing on back-to-back one-year contracts, Grant is now looking to cash in on a big money contract. So the question remains, is he worth the “moola?” When you compare him to Tavares Gooden, I would yes.
For one, Grant provides the 49ers with more than just special teams ability. During the end of the 2011 regular season, Grant started in place of the injured Patrick Willis, and racked up 34 tackles (2 for loss) and 2.0 sacks. As if that was not impressive enough, Grant also amassed five passes defensed. His play was invaluable during that time, as the 49ers heavily depended on him, and Grant responded, playing at a very high-level. In 49ers DC Vic Fangio’s 3-4 scheme, it is imperative to have at least six or seven quality linebackers capable of filling in when called upon, and Grant does this perfectly.
Then you have arguably the heart and soul of the special teams in ace Tavares Gooden. The player known as “T-Good” got his first crack at NFL blood with the Baltimore Ravens. A 2008 third-round draft pick (71st overall), Gooden played sparingly on special teams before signing with San Francisco in 2011. Unlike Grant, Gooden does not possess the skill set needed to thrive in a starting role.
The only starting experience Gooden enjoyed was during the 2009 season. In 12 games, Gooden accumulated 47 tackles (two for loss) and one pass defensed. Not great stats, and if the 49ers are to invest in a linebacker, they better make sure they are versatile enough to play a starting role. Although, I like Gooden’s passion for the game, he is no where near Grant’s productivity level. A primarily special teams standout, Gooden will most likely be looking elsewhere in 2013, as the 49ers realize the importance of Grant over Gooden.