Gipson reflects on wild 49ers journey after two-pick game originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea
From couch to contender, Tashaun Gipson's 2022 NFL season is shaping up to have a storybook ending.
The veteran safety signed with the 49ers in late August, providing San Francisco with depth at the position after longtime safety Jimmie Ward suffered a hamstring injury in training camp.
Since then, Gipson not only has held onto a starting role opposite Pro Bowl safety Talanoa Hufanga, but even leads the 49ers' defense in interceptions with five after his two-takeaway game in San Francisco's 38-13 win over the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday at Levi's Stadium
In speaking to reporters after the game, Gipson discussed how meaningful this season has been for him after the uncertainty surrounding his career over the summer.
“It's so humbling because there were a lot of times, and I sit here and my family could attest to it, where I'd be lying to you if I said I didn't lose a little faith sitting at training camp," Gipson said. "Going into preseason there, I was at home with my kids. It was my first time spending my birthday at home, and I didn't envision being at home on my birthday in August. So to be here now, man, it's just glory to God because I came into the right situation at the right time."
Initially brought in as a depth move, Gipson quickly transitioned to full-time starter and never looked back. The 32-year-old's consistency and reliability allowed the 49ers to be flexible with their defensive backfield.
"I mess around with him, I call him dad sometimes, but he's been so consistent," coach Kyle Shanahan said jokingly. "Always putting the top, the backstop on our defense. He's got great ball skills, he always has. And the biggest thing is it's allowed us to use Jimmie Ward at nickel too.
"When we lost [CB Emmanuel Moseley] E-man, which was a huge loss for us and having to bump [DB Deommodore Lenoir] D-Mo out, that was tough and that was right when Jimmie came back and Jimmie, whether he is an all-pro safety or an all-pro nickel it's been great to be able to have Jimmie there and use him there and get him around the box more where he can make so many more plays. And the only reason we've been able to do that is because we have Gip on the back end, so it's been huge.”
After a phenomenal season with San Francisco, Gipson, who is set to become a free-agent after the season, could receive a nice pay-day either from the 49ers or another team in need of a reliable veteran safety.
“He made himself a lot of money," Ward said postgame. "Gipson just made himself a lot of money. He's leading the team with five picks ...
"If you put him back there. He can tackle, he can make open-field tackles, he can catch the ball. You see how good of a ball hawk he is. He's a great safety and he fits with his defense. So the 49ers should pay him because he's leading the team in interceptions right now. He's a playmaker back there and that's what we need.”
Gipson's impact can be felt both on and off the field and his relationship with Hufanga has been mutually beneficial.
“Man, best safety in the league right there," Hufanga said of Gipson. "He's really been doing his thing, and he's just been a part of my life tremendously. Coming in here and teaching me the game, bringing a lot of knowledge, and it's just a true pleasure to be on field with him. He has a great attitude. Everything about him is just awesome.”
Believe it or not, when Gipson signed with the 49ers, it was Hufanga, nine years younger, who took the veteran safety under his wing, teaching him San Francisco's defensive scheme.
"Hufunga, I truly have love for him, he brought me in, helped me understand the defense, and he took me under his wing," Gipson recalled. "As crazy as it sounds, I'm 10 years older than him, but he truly did. And it's just been a match made in heaven. It's the most fun year of my career and I can truly say that.
"I've been on some teams where we had a little success, man, but this truly is the most fun year of my career. And, you know, why stop now? We have so much more football left to play. Perfect storybook ending for everybody if we can continue to keep this going.”
Gipson's story with the 49ers continues to be written as the veteran safety now finds himself on a red-hot San Francisco team with a legitimate shot at winning Super Bowl LVII.
Will it have a fairytale ending?