NEW ORLEANS — Back in August 2011, veteran NFL center Jonathan Goodwin questioned whether he had made the right decision to leave the Super Bowl XLIV champion New Orleans Saints for the pedestrian San Francisco 49ers in free agency.
He wrestled long and hard with the decision before settling on a three-year, $10.9 million contract with the 49ers, largely because of the financial security it afforded a 31-year-old player.
Based on San Francisco’s date Sunday with the Baltimore Ravens in Super Bowl XLVII, Goodwin unquestionably made the right call.
“There were definitely some doubts,’’ Goodwin said Tuesday to reporters who had assembled for Media Day at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. “When I came to New Orleans (in 2006), I kind of took a leap of faith, because for whatever reason, they weren’t winning when I got there. I ended up telling myself I had to do the same thing.
“It wasn’t necessarily just about the money. I didn’t want to get into a situation where I was moving every year. I wanted to get as much security for as long a period of time as I could. But could I have predicted when I decided to go there that we would be in the NFC Championship game that year and then the Super Bowl the next year? No.’’
And yet here Goodwin is, trying to earn a bookend for the Super Bowl ring he won as a member of the Saints three years ago. If the 49ers prevail, Goodwin would join an elite group of 47 players who have won Super Bowls with more than one team.
“That definitely would be something special,’’ he said. “Two Super Bowl rings, regardless of the team, is amazing. A lot of great players who play in this league don’t even get one. So it’s something I would definitely cherish and would feel really blessed to have it.’’
Goodwin has proved to be invaluable to the 49ers since coming over from New Orleans — particularly this season, with second-year quarterback Colin Kaepernick replacing the veteran Alex Smith after nine games.
Not only has Goodwin held his own in pass-blocking, he also takes great pride in being able to run-block in the 49ers’ pistol formation, when running backs Frank Gore or LaMichael James lined up directly behind Kaepernick.
“I guess with us being more of a passing team with Alex (Smith), people wondered if we could run-block. But we can do both,’’ Goodwin said.
Exhibit A came in the divisional round, when the 49ers rushed for 323 yards in a 45-31 victory against the Green Bay Packers. In that game, Kaepernick set a postseason rushing record for quarterbacks with 181 yards.
“Goodwin has been a big help to (Kaepernick),’’ Gore said. “He helps read the defenses and gets the O-line blocked up right.’’
Added defensive coordinator Vic Fangio: “Jonathan has been a solid player for us since the day we got him. He’s kept our whole offensive line together. He’s very calm, very confident.
“Obviously, he has great playoff experience with the Saints, and he’s been able to bring that to us. We’re very happy to have him. He’s a solid, solid guy.’’