Often, football games are won due to a couple of exceptional plays by individual players. That was the case on Sunday for San Francisco 49ers safety Tashaun Gipson Sr., as he forced a crucial second-half fumble that helped his team escape with a 34-31 comeback win against the Detroit Lions in the NFC championship game.
The 49ers had just cut their deficit to seven on a six-yard touchdown pass from Brock Purdy to Brandon Aiyuk. Then, on the first play of the following Detroit possession, a hard-charging Gipson stuffed an inside run and forced a fumble, which San Francisco recovered at Detroit’s 24-yard line.
Tashaun Gipson knocks it loose and @arikarmstead recovers!
— NFL (@NFL) January 29, 2024
Four plays later, Christian McCaffrey punched it in from one yard out, the extra point tied the game, and the 49ers never trailed from that point on as they advanced to their eighth Super Bowl in franchise history.
“This is just God. Honestly, it’s just God. Without Him, this wouldn’t be possible,” Gipson told 49ers team reporter Lindsey Pallares after the game, with his three children surrounding him, as he reflected on his first-ever trip to the Super Bowl. “It’s a surreal feeling; my body is numb right now. … I’m so thankful.”
“I’m so happy, my heart’s full.” ❤️
— San Francisco 49ers (@49ers) January 29, 2024
Gipson has had a bit of a career resurgence in his two seasons in 49ers red and gold.
The 33-year-old from Dallas had five interceptions a year ago, the most since the 2014-15 season when he collected six picks and made his only Pro Bowl appearance. He’s intercepted 33 passes in his career, tied for the third most among the league’s active players.
Gipson has also reached the 60-tackle plateau in each of the last two seasons, which he’d accomplished only four times before arriving in San Francisco. He’s an anchor in the secondary for the NFL’s third-ranked scoring defense (17.5 points per game).
Gipson originally signed with the Cleveland Browns as an undrafted free agent out of Wyoming in 2012, yet he beat out the competition to make the team’s Week 1 roster and hasn’t looked back since. Beginning with the 2014-15 campaign, Gipson has started at safety in every game he’s played.
His 12-year career has endured longer than many expected, including even himself.
Just a year and a half ago, Gipson was sitting at home in August and still without a team. He wasn’t ready to retire, but his hand was being forced. He was preparing for life after football. Then, the 49ers came calling.
“They saw something in me that 31 other teams didn’t,” Gipson told the San Francisco Chronicle last season. “And praise God because this has been the most fun I’ve had in the league. It took me 11 years to get to this point, but hey man, I’m blessed.”
Gipson speaks openly about his faith in God, whether in interviews with the media or on his own social media accounts. He describes himself as a father of three who fears God on Instagram. “I give GOD the glory always,” he wrote in his bio.
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Gipson even wears his faith on his body, in the form of a prominent tattoo of the word “blessed” across his chest.
When he was named to the Pro Bowl following the 2014-15 season with the Browns, Gipson made sure to give glory to the One who is truly worthy.
“It was just a blessing to be able to hear my name called and be amongst the game’s elite,” Gipson told WKYC in Cleveland near the end of that season. “It’s just truly a blessing. I’m giving God the glory. Without Him, it would be impossible.”
While trusting in God for his strength, Gipson’s veteran leadership and clutch plays have proved invaluable for the 49ers. They will need Gipson to play at his absolute best in the Super Bowl against the Kansas City Chiefs and perhaps the game’s best quarterback, Patrick Mahomes.
Super Bowl LVIII will be played in Las Vegas on Feb. 11 at 6:30 p.m. ET.
– Brock Purdy leads 49ers to Super Bowl: ‘Win or lose I’m going to glorify God’
– Chiefs owner Clark Hunt going to 4th Super Bowl: ‘I want to give God the glory’
– QB Brock Purdy making history, leading 49ers with eyes fixed on Jesus
– 49ers star RB Christian McCaffrey aims to give ‘honor and glory back to God’
– SS PODCAST: Bryant Young – 49ers Hall of Fame defensive tackle