49ers news: Tashaun Gipson wants to stay, Jimmie Ward out in 2023?
By Peter Panacy
The 49ers were looking at two starting-caliber safeties, Jimmie Ward and Tashaun Gipson, leaving this offseason. But the latter wants to hang around.
Two of the elder statesmen of the San Francisco 49ers’ defensive backfield, safeties Jimmie Ward and Tashaun Gipson, both recognized the strong possibility of not returning to the Niners in 2023.
Albeit for notably different reasons.
While both players are pending free agents, Gipson was leaning toward retirement not long after San Francisco was eliminated by the Philadelphia Eagles in the NFC Championship game.
Well, it appears as if the 32-year-old Gipson is now leaning the other way.
Tashaun Gipson wants to play in 2023, prefers to stay with 49ers
After making it known that he was mulling over retiring, Gipson apparently wants to stay put in Northern California with a 49ers team that effectively signed him off the street after Ward suffered an injury just prior to the regular season.
On Thursday, The Athletic’s Matt Barrows reported that Gipson wanted to return to the Niners for another year:
Speaking from the NFL Scouting Combine last week, general manager John Lynch suggested San Francisco would welcome Gipson back, too.
“I think he wants to play, and we’d like to have him back,” Lynch said.
With Gipson potentially back, though, what would that mean for Ward, the 49ers’ longest-tenured player?
Is Jimmie Ward leaving 49ers via NFL free agency?
Gipson and Ward have a unique relationship, one that the former actually pointed out with regard to being a fill-in replacement:
“This was only supposed to be until Jimmie Ward got healthy, but I’m so grateful,” Gipson previously said to NBC Sports Bay Area’s Jennifer Lee Chan. “I couldn’t have asked for a better situation.”
That situation netted Gipson five interceptions and eight passes broken up over 17 games, all of them starts.
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Ward, meanwhile, came back from his injury and had to play nickel cornerback because Gipson was playing so well.
Now, heading into 2023, it’s likely that Gipson will be the cheaper player out of the two. Considering the Niners currently have just a shade over $6 million in salary-cap space before the start of NFL free agency on March 15, it’s likely that saving money will be of interest to Lynch and the front office.
Going with a cheaper option like Gipson might ultimately push Ward into the free-agent market and out of San Francisco’s budget.