Late-bloomer Goodwin fits in well with 49ers

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Late-bloomer Goodwin fits in well with 49ers

SANTA CLARA -- Understanding Jonathan Goodwin's past is the window to seeing the impact the center has had on the 49ers this season.His NFL career didn't start the way he expected. The fifth-round draft pick out of Michigan had grand ideas of what life in the NFL would be like. Instead, reality struck. Goodwin struggled, and what he struggled with was, well . . .

"Everything," Goodwin said. "Initially, I kind of struggled with pass blocking, and you got to learn to pass block in this league or you won't be around too long."The 6-foot-3 lineman focused on improving his technique, his hand speed and whatever it took to block the players who were bigger and faster than the ones he faced in college.Overseeing his every move was Doug Marrone, Goodwin's first offensive line coach in the league while he was with the New York Jets."In this league, it's easy for coaches to give up on guys that come in and struggle and he didn't give up on me," Goodwin said. "He kept pushing me, and when I struggled he stayed on me."RELATED: Jonathan Goodwin NFL career profile
The results of Goodwin's efforts under Marrone's watch weren't immediate, but by his third year things began to get easier. The real improvement came a few years later. While with New Orleans, Goodwin became the heart of the line."For me, when I moved to center I think it kind of improved my hand speed because I had no choice," Goodwin said. "I had to snap the ball and get my hands up quick. I think that was key for me that position change."Now with a Pro Bowl selection and a Super Bowl championship to his name from his time with the Saints, the center can look back on his early struggles and smile."I always sit back now and think Wow, I've been in this league 10 years,'" Goodwin said chuckling. "When my first two years I was thinking about what I was going to be doing after football right away."Marrone, now the head coach at Syracuse University, had his reasons for believing in Goodwin. In turn, Goodwin saw something in San Francisco, a team that didn't have a winning record or playoff appearance in nearly a decade."Playing against this team last year, I felt like the defense was really talented and Coach (Jim) Harbaugh, (general manager) Trent (Baalke) and those guys did a great job of selling me on some things," Goodwin said. "Just like when I left New York and went to New Orleans, I took a chance, and fortunately things have gone well so far and hopefully they'll stay that way for years to come."After five seasons in New Orleans, the free agent signed a three-year deal with the 49ers. This time, the veteran Goodwin knew what it took to adapt to the change that comes with joining a new team. Goodwin says it took him about two months to feel comfortable in a new offense with new linemates. That time may have been shorter if the 49ers weren't limited in training camp due to the lockout."(I) didn't want to use that as an excuse," Goodwin said, "but we've had some great stretches, and I think the second half of the Cincinnati game and the second half of the Philly game were some times we kind of got clicking and rolling. We still have a way to go but it's nice to know that we can put together some nice stretches."Goodwin anchors a line that hasn't allowed a sack in four games this season and has opened the gaps through which Frank Gore ran to his fifth 1,000-yard season. But it was the 49ers game against Seattle that Goodwin considers one of his best as he successfully handled the silent count, a big improvement from last season.As New Orleans' center during the playoffs, Goodwin experienced the challenges of the raucous stadium as the favored Saints lost to the Seahawks."I think it was big," Goodwin said. "Seattle is the only stadium that I've played in in my career where I've had problems hearing the quarterback, and I experienced that last year. I kind of controlled the count myself this year. It was big for me. It felt a lot different. Instead of me trying to struggle to hear the quarterback, even though he's right behind me, it was huge for me to not have to worry about that."And it's that kind of constant improvement Goodwin expects from himself and the entire line with San Francisco heading to the playoffs for the first time since 2002. The 49ers will open their postseason at Candlestick Park Saturday, Jan. 14, at 1:30 p.m. And there's a strong chance it will be against the Saints, Goodwin's former team.RELATED: NFL Wild Card playoff schedule
"Whenever the offensive line is clicking and has a good game, that's usually when we have a successful game," Goodwin said. "If we can get more points in the red zone that would be good for this offense with the way our defense is playing. If we can find a way to get seven points instead of three and give our defense even more points to work with, the sky's the limit for this team."

Reid: National anthem protest accomplished goal of awareness

Reid: National anthem protest accomplished goal of awareness

SANTA CLARA – Safety Eric Reid and linebacker Eli Harold, who joined Colin Kaepernick in kneeling during the national anthem last season, will not continue the protest this season.

Reid said Wednesday they achieved their goal of bringing attention to racial inequality in the United States.

“When we started doing that, our goal was to open up the floor to conversation. I believe we’ve achieved that goal,” Reid said. “So now we just want to move forward and just partner with people that’s trying to make a change.

“We accomplished that goal. People talked about it. I think we raised a lot of awareness about issues in this country. And now it’s time to move on to just affecting change.”

Reid and Harold are back with the 49ers, while Kaepernick remains a free agent. The 49ers have expressed no interest in retaining Kaepernick after opting to sign free-agent quarterback Brian Hoyer and Matt Barkley, instead.

“I stay in touch with him,” Reid said of Kaepernick. “I’m rooting for him. Obviously, he isn’t on a team, yet, but I’m rooting for him but hopefully he gets that call after the draft.

“It’s surprising. You see some of the other quarterbacks that have been signed around the league and why he hasn’t been, it’s just unfortunate.”

When asked if thought Kaepernick was paying the price for his protest, Reid answered, “I think so. It’s unfortunate, it’s sad. People want to shy away from him because of media, PR reasons.

“You’re doing something to better the world. I mean, the guy got a plane sent to Somalia to help with the famine there. He’s been doing things that if it were anybody else in a different situation without the anthem (protest), they’d be praising him and giving him awards for it.”

 

Coming off Achilles injury, Bowman returns to 49ers practice at full speed

Coming off Achilles injury, Bowman returns to 49ers practice at full speed

SANTA CLARA – NaVorro Bowman, who sustained a season-ending torn Achilles in Week 4 of the 2016 season, has been a full participant as the 49ers return to the practice field this week.

Bowman worked with the first team at middle linebacker Wednesday and appeared to move at top speed as the 49ers went through the second day of on-field workouts at a voluntary minicamp.

The 49ers, under new coach Kyle Shanahan, are allowed an extra voluntary minicamp as part of their offseason program. Bowman's return to the practice field was the highlight as the 49ers enter their third-week of the offseason program.

In other notes:

--The 49ers had tryouts with three unsigned veteran players: cornerback Steve Williams, and offensive linemen Tim Barnes and Kitt O’Brien.

--Wide receiver DeAndre Carter made the best catch of the day on a deep throw from quarterback Matt Barkley. Carter beat Williams on the reception.

--Defensive lineman Arik Armstead, who is a candidate to play the “Leo” position, was held out of competitive drills as he continues to recovery from surgery to repair a torn labrum in his left shoulder.

--Ronald Blair lined up at the “Leo” position with the first-team defense and beat No. 2 right tackle Garry Gilliam for a sack in the “non-contract” drills. Aaron Lynch was at the “Leo” position with the second team.

--Tank Carradine lined up at the 5-technique, which is a position where the 49ers could target Stanford’s Solomon Thomas with the No. 2 overall pick.

--Kyle Juszczyk showed the versatility that prompted the 49ers to make him the highest-paid fullback in the league with several pass receptions during the 90-minute practice.

--Rashard Robinson and Dontae Johnson lined up at the cornerbacks with the first-team defense. Robinson made a leaping interception of a Brian Hoyer deep sideline pass against Rashad Ross during 7-on-7 drills.

--Hoyer and receiver Pierre Garçon teamed up for a 20-yard completion on the opening play of the 11-on-11 period.

--Wide receiver Bruce Ellington, who spent all of last season on injured reserve, did not practice due to a soft-tissue injury not related to his hamstring injury of a year ago.

--Offensive lineman Jeremy Zuttah (soft tissue), tight end Je’Ron Hamm (leg), running back Raheem Mostert (soft tissue), linebacker Eli Harold (toe) and tight end Blake Bell (cut forehead) did not practice.