Gipson will ‘decompress' before making retirement decision

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SANTA CLARA — Tashaun Gipson is going to take some time to decide what comes next, but if the safety’s future involves playing in the NFL, there’s no other place he’d rather be than with the 49ers. 

The 11-year veteran told NBC Sports Bay Area on Tuesday that his goal prior to arriving in the Bay Area simply was to play through the 2022 season. After proving his value not only to himself but to the league, Gipson will take his time before making a decision on what his plans for next season will be. 

“I’m going to decompress and see where I’m at,” Gipson said. “This was only supposed to be until Jimmie Ward got healthy, but I’m so grateful. I couldn’t have asked for a better situation.” 

The 49ers signed Gipson in late August after Ward was sidelined with a hamstring injury during training camp. The longest-tenured 49ers player missed the first four games of the season and then on his first play back into action, Ward broke a bone in his hand that sidelined him until Week 7. 

Well before Ward received a clean bill of health, Gipson had solidified his role in the secondary as a starter. Gipson was a key contributor on for the 49ers' defense, registering 68 total tackles — 47 solo and two for a loss through 20 combined regular- and postseason games this season. 

Gipson also registered five interceptions, eight pass breakups and half a quarterback sack.

Ward, who is a free agent in 2023, likely is to land somewhere outside of the Bay Area after nine seasons with the 49ers. The Northern Illinois product proved his versatility, playing at both safety positions, cornerback, nickel back and occasionally as a hybrid linebacker throughout his tenure with San Francisco.

If Gipson retires, general manager John Lynch and the 49ers' front office will have a void to fill alongside Pro-Bowl safety Talanoa Hufanga. The USC product is one of the reasons Gipson would consider returning for another season.

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“That youthfulness, I can’t tell you enough,” Gipson said. “He will be one of the sole reasons, honestly, for me wanting to continue playing. That’s how much love and gratitude I’ve got for him. I wouldn’t be here without him.” 

Along with Hufanga, the 49ers have special teams ace George Odum and undrafted free agent Tayler Hawkins on the roster at safety. If Gipson decides to hang up his cleats, the club will need to look at free agency and the draft to add to the safeties room. 

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