Center Jonathan Goodwin has not received an offer to return to the 49ers next season. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
Center Jonathan Goodwin was waiting to hear from the 49ers about his future.
He’s still waiting to hear directly, but the team sent him a message that’s certainly loud and clear:
He’s played his last game in a 49ers uniform.
Goodwin, 35, who’s been the Niners starting center since coming over from the Saints three years ago, is an unrestricted free agent who was hoping to play another season in San Francisco.
But on Thursday, the 49ers went a different direction, re-signing his backup, Daniel Kilgore, to a three-year extension. Kilgore, 26, a fifth-round pick in 2011, has now been given the chance to lock up the job this offseason. When the 49ers open 2014, Kilgore is now expected to be the man in the middle of what has been one of the NFL’s best offensive lines.
“This move is another example of our philosophy to extend the contracts of our own young players,” 49ers GM Trent Baalke said in a statement released by the team.
For Goodwin, however, it marks the end of a solid three years with the 49ers. Goodwin, a fifth-round pick of the New York Jets in 2002, played his first four seasons with the Jets before moving on to New Orleans, where he was a key piece of the Saints’ Super Bowl championship team of the 2009 season. He was chosen as a Pro Bowl reserve in 2010.
He then signed with the 49ers in 2011 as a free agent and become a solid piece of the 49ers success since Jim Harbaugh became head coach.
Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle reported Thursday that Goodwin’s agent still had not heard anything from the team about re-signing for next season.
“I haven’t heard from anyone so far, Goodwin told Branch via email.
By going with Kilgore, the 49ers save money and go with a young lineman they’ve been able to groom. Kilgore has played a solid role not only as Goodwin’s backup, but as an extra blocker in some formations and at guard. Goodwin just completed the final season of a three-year, $10.9 million deal.
Goodwin in December said he was thinking about retiring, but also was contemplating one more season with the 49ers.
“There have been (retirement) thoughts here and there, but I definitely haven’t made that decision,” Goodwin told Cam Inman of the Bay Area News Group in December. “I feel I’m still playing at a pretty high level. These guys around me bring up the best in me. I feel like my play hasn’t fallen off, being that I will be a free agent, I still need a contract to be able to still play. We’ll see what happens in the offseason.”
By signing Kilgore, the 49ers have let him know they’re going in a different -- and younger -- direction.