Tashaun Gipson

How Whitner amazingly predicted Gipson's 2014 Pro Bowl season

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Programming note: Watch "49ers Pregame Live," with Carlos Ramirez, Donte Whitner and Rod Brooks, at 4 p.m. on NBC Sports Bay Area for a complete preview of the Thanksgiving showdown with the Seahawks, and come back for "49ers Postgame Live" immediately following the game.

Tashaun Gipson, now in his 12th NFL season, gives the 49ers a veteran presence and particularly is regarded as someone who helps guide the team's young defenders.

But once upon a time, Gipson was a 22-year-old rookie finding his way in the league, and that journey began in Cleveland in 2012 after he went undrafted and signed a three-year contract with the Browns.

Gipson had a career-high 95 tackles (63 solo), 12 pass breakups and five interceptions in 2013, his sophomore season, but his best still was yet to come. He credits that, in part, to Donte Whitner, who joined the Browns in 2014.

"Donte, obviously, we played two years together. I'll never forget. He was influential in the turn in my career," Gipson said Tuesday on KNBR's "Murph & Mac" show. "These were the long days. Twitter days, many, many moons ago.

"We signed him, and he told me he respects my game. I think I was just coming off a season where I had five picks. The league still didn't really care. And he seen something in me. He said, 'I'm going to make you a Pro Bowler this year.' And it was a Twitter message that I have -- you can ask Donte. He was just like, 'I'm going to do whatever I got to do to make you a Pro Bowler, I love your game. I respect your game.' And that year, man, I was a Pro Bowl player.

"So, Donte I can't say enough about. Just the impact he had on me just as a player. Not even football, not outside the building. Good dude, but just as a player, he helped me as a player. He helped me understand the game, he helped me see things. He would make me lift with him. He just took me under his wing, and he was like an older brother to me. And I thank Whit so much for that.

"We had a great relationship. We played together in Cleveland, we were both Pro Bowlers out there. So, it was a fun time having a guy like that who had success and was willing to give it to me unselfishly. So, I tip my hat off to Whit for that."

Whitner, in his ninth NFL season when he joined the Browns after three years with the 49ers, was selected to his second Pro Bowl after that campaign, alongside Gipson. Fast-forward nearly a decade later, and both Gipson and Whitner are in the Bay -- Gipson as a 49ers veteran and Whitner as a 49ers analyst for NBC Sports Bay Area.

Gipson takes his mentorship of young 49ers players seriously, and they're certainly in good hands.

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