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Jonathan Goodwin Still 'Willing' and Able for 49ers

Posted Jan 21, 2014

San Francisco's center finished his third year with the team by performing admirably in Seattle.

If at 35 and after his 12th NFL season, Jonathan Goodwin's career at the center position is over, would he consider lining up in the backfield?

That was the facetious question posed to Goodwin on Monday morning.

"Maybe so," he said, smiling. "I wouldn't complain."

The query's origin: Quarterback Colin Kaepernick was sacked and stripped by Seahawks pass-rusher Michael Bennett during the 49ers second offensive possession after halftime of Sunday's NFC Championship game. Kaepernick's eight-yard loss turned into a six-yard gain when, of all teammates, Goodwin picked up the loose football and charged forward to Seattle's 26-yard line.

"It's definitely something I won't forget," said Goodwin, who last carried the football in high school. Fun "until I turned around and saw two blue shirts running at me."

On the next play, Kaepernick covered the rest of the way toward the end zone with a touchdown heave to wideout Anquan Boldin for San Francisco's temporary 17-10 lead; the team eventually lost, 23-17.

This wasn't the last time Goodwin touched the ball in Sunday's NFC title game – he touched it on the 49ers final, unsuccessful offensive play – but was he playing in his final game?

"Deep down, I'm still willing to," Goodwin said, who cited retirement as a possibility in a chat with reporters last month. "What creates uncertainty for me is being a 35-year-old free agent, which in this time of the NFL, can be tough.

"If I get any offers, I'll sit down with my wife and agent and go from there."

A veteran of four seasons with the New York Jets, five with the New Orleans Saints and the last three in San Francisco, Goodwin played at Pro Bowl-caliber level this season, according to his offensive coordinator.

"He’s just incredibly smart at getting everything organized quickly" Greg Roman said earlier this month, "and recognizing it during the week."

And it would be tough for "Goody," who started all 16 games for a third straight campaign, to exit his playing days with a conference championship game defeat right in his rearview mirror.

"There's no words I can really use to explain how that feels," Goodwin said, alluding to another crushing loss earlier in his career. "At the end of the day, we're going to think we missed our opportunity to go to the Super Bowl."

On Sunday in Seattle, Goodwin and his offensive line 'mates kept pressure off Kaepernick for much of the game. San Francisco's signal-caller was sacked only once more, although Goodwin wasn't in the right place and right time a second time: Kaepernick was sacked by pass-rusher Cliff Avril and Bennett found the football first.

The team's less than ideal execution in the fourth quarter – Kaepernick would turn the ball over three times overall in the final 15 minutes – would seem to give Goodwin more reason to return.

Given his experience level, however, Goodwin didn't need to be told how hard it will be this offseason to maintain the 49ers roster.

"In this day in age, with the salary cap and things like that, it's tough to keep teams together," he said. "You have your windows, opportunities to keep your players. Hopefully, there are ways to work around that and keep guys here.

"It would be nice to give these guys another shot."

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