Tashaun Gipson

Why Gipson returning for another 49ers season was ‘no-brainer'

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Tashaun Gipson weighed his options last winter.

The 49ers safety grinded through a grueling 17-game NFL schedule at 32 years old last season. He played 96.7 percent of the team’s defensive snaps -- more than any other teammate, starting 17 regular-season games and all three playoff tilts.

Gipson will turn 33 years old next week. His partner in the secondary, Talanoa Hufanga, is a decade younger. So, as Gipson pondered retiring or returning for another season -- what ultimately made him re-sign with San Francisco?

“Super Bowl, man,” Hufanga said to reporters after training camp practice Friday. “Being so close last year -- we know how that game ended. We’ve heard about it all offseason.

“It’s not often that you’re able to play on teams like this. … You would be a foolish to not want to be a part of it. They wanted me back. It was a no-brainer for me. There’d be no better storybook ending than winning a Super Bowl this year. That’s everybody’s expectation.”

The 49ers originally signed Gipson last August, shortly after Jimmie Ward injured his hamstring in training camp. He played so well that when Ward returned in Week 5, San Francisco opted to keep Gipson as its starting safety and slid Ward to nickel back.

In 17 regular-season games, Gipson tallied 61 tackles, eight passes defensed and a team-high five interceptions. He developed a special bond with Hufanga in the secondary, and the two safeties combined for nearly half of the 49ers' league-high 20 interceptions.

"He is a special person who truly makes players around him better everyday,” Hufanga told NBC Sports Bay Area when Gipson agreed to terms on new contract in March. "Grateful for his return with me so we can run it back."

"It’s fun being out here with the guys," Gipson said Friday. "They keep me young. And obviously, there’s no place I’d rather be."

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