*****UPDATE 8 a.m****** The team announced it had released outside linebacker Antwan Applewhite to make room for Gooden. That gives the 49ers five inside linebackers and
four three outside linebackers, Ahmad Brooks, Parys Haralson and Aldon Smith.
The 49ers on Monday closed a one-year deal with Tavares Gooden, a talented but injury-prone linebacker who teamed with Ray Lewis in the middle of the Ravens defense two years ago, according a league source.
Gooden (6-1, 242) was on the 49ers' radar when he entered the 2008 draft out of the University of Miami, and according to reports out of Baltimore, he was the subject of trade talks with the 49ers before he was waived on Saturday. Gooden was selected by Baltimore in the third round and has had 70 tackles in 26 games over the last three seasons, 13 of them coming on special teams.
His best season came in 2009 when he started 12 games next to Lewis at inside linebacker. That was the same year 49ers defensive coordinator Vic Fangio coached linebackers for the Ravens. Fangio was with the Ravens from 2006-09.
Gooden flew to the Bay Area Monday and had a physical -- not a perfunctory event when it comes to the 26-year-old linebacker. He didn't play in the 2008 Senior Bowl because of a hip injury, then missed the last 12 games of his rookie season with a hernia. He sat out four games in 2009 with a concussion and groin injury. Last season, he missed eight games after dislocating his left shoulder and tearing his labrum. Neck and hamstring injuries slowed him down in training camp this year, although he appeared in three of Ravens' four preseason games.
Gooden figures to be a backup behind starters Patrick Willis and NaVorro Bowman. The team also signed Larry Grant this year, and Grant had a strong training camp and preseason. Blake Costanzo also plays inside linebacker but is primarily a special teams player. The team released inside linebacker Keaton Kristick Sunday to make room for quarterback Scott Tolzien on the 53-man roster.
Applewhite had been part of the 49ers' second-string defense. Brooks, Haralson and Smith had rotated with the first-team unit.
The 49ers are five days from the start of the season but the team still does not know the early-season fate of receiver Braylon Edwards. A league spokesman said Monday the NFL hasn't decided whether Edwards, who was arrested for DUI a year ago, will be suspended to start the season. Edwards pleaded guilty in July.
The depth chart in the 49ers' weekly release is notable in that it lists Joshua Morgan as one starter at receiver and Ted Ginn OR Braylon Edwards at the starter at the other spot. That's likely due in part to the uncertainty surrounding a possible suspension for Edwards from last year's DUI. And, again, it's also a bit a gamesmanship.
The cornerbacks are listed as Brown and Carlos Rogers; the center is Goodwin and the safeties are Goldson and Donte Whitner. Kendall Hunter is listed as the kick returner; Ginn as the punt returner.
-- Matt Barrows