49ers news: Tashaun Gipson is back, Jake Brendel may go

Tashaun Gipson Sr. #31 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Tashaun Gipson Sr. #31 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images) /

The 49ers will be retaining their starting safety tandem in 2023 with veteran Tashaun Gipson returning. But center Jake Brendel might seek other pastures.

In terms of the national perspective, the San Francisco 49ers’ interest in retaining defensive back Tashaun Gipson and center Jake Brendel won’t move the needle too much.

After all, neither player is exactly a cornerstone star, and you won’t see either of them in commercials anytime soon.

But both are notably important.

Gipson, who was signed late in the preseason in 2022 to alleviate an injury to fellow safety Jimmie Ward, ended up starting all 17 games and had a Pro Bowl-like campaign with five interceptions and eight pass breakups. His presence was enough to force the Niners to play Ward at nickel cornerback when he returned from injury.

Brendel, who had just three regular-season starts under his belt dating back to his entry into the league as an undrafted free agent in 2016, was a revelation as a first-time starter last year.

Both were also hitting NFL free agency this offseason, too. Considering San Francisco’s salary cap limitations, it was going to be interesting seeing which one, if either, would return to the team in 2023.

49ers bring back Tashaun Gipson to a one-year deal

On Sunday, reports surfaced that the 49ers were re-signing the 32-year-old Gipson to a one-year deal worth $2.9 million:

Quite a bargain, considering his stats from his first year in a Niners uniform.

Gipson was weighing the retirement option after San Francisco’s disappointing defeat in the NFC Championship game last January, but playing alongside All-Pro safety Talanoa Hufanga was apparently some motivation to keep going.

Now, the tandem will return once more in 2023.

Will Jimmie Ward leave in NFL free agency?

Retaining Gipson doesn’t automatically mean the 49ers are going to bid farewell to their longest-tenured player, Ward.

But it’s a pretty strong suggestion that’ll happen.

Ward, who’ll turn 32 years old this offseason, appeared in 12 games last season and lost his starting safety job to Gipson, yet the former’s versatility and ability to play multiple spots within the secondary does make him unique and valuable.

Read More: Tashaun Gipson wants to stay, but does that mean Jimmie Ward is out?

Considering the Niners have just over $3.7 million in available cap space on the dawn of NFL free agency, per Over the Cap, it wouldn’t seem as if Ward would be a strong candidate to return.

Unless his free-agent market winds up being notably thin.

Jake Brendel is attracting other teams in NFL free agency

Brendel wouldn’t have been a sought-after free agent prior to 2022. That’s an easy statement to make.

According to Aaron Wilson of Houston’s KPRC2 (h/t 49ers Webzone), however, the 30-year-old journeyman backup has “multiple teams interested in him” at the start of the free-agent bargaining period:

According to Pro Football Focus, Brendel went through his first year as a starter having allowed just one sack and two quarterback hits over 571 pass-blocking snaps, and he earned a respectable 64.9 overall grade on the season, too.

In doing so, he might have priced himself out of San Francisco’s comfort range.

Like Ward, though, it’s possible the 49ers can take advantage of a cool market on Brendel’s services, but they’ll have to wait through the opening waves of NFL free agency that kick off at the start of the negotiating window on March 13.

Free agency fully begins and becomes official on March 15.

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