SANTA CLARA, Calif. — B.J. Goodson’s locker was empty. Intercepting passes is so new to him that he didn’t know he was supposed to hold on to the souvenirs.
Now, though, he knows the ropes. Goodson had a pair of picks — one of them setting up the Giants’ first touchdown in Monday’s 27-23 win over the 49ers — and finds himself tied for the team lead in the category. Not bad for a linebacker who has had a bumpy season in terns of playing time and earning the trust of his coaches.
Monday, though, may have been a turning point in that process.
“He was a guy that I didn’t know much about,” Pat Shurmur said after the game. “But along the way, I've gained an appreciation for him.”
Goodson's two interceptions both came off tipped passes. The first was broken up by teammate Janoris Jenkins and Goodson returned it 5 yards to the 49ers’ 12 with 4 minutes, 3 seconds left in the first quarter. Three plays later, Eli Manning hit Odell Beckham Jr. in the back of the end zone for a 7-3 lead.
The second came on he first play of the fourth quarter on a ball that went off the hands of receiver Marquis Goodwin. Goodwin wound up leaving the field with an injury after running into the big linebacker to make the tackle. “Receivers probably shouldn’t do that,” Goodson said.
This was the most active game Goodson has had since his first NFL start in Week 1 of last season when he racked up 18 tackles in the opener against the Cowboys. Injuries slowed him for most of the rest of the 2017 season. This year, he came in with a new scheme, new coordinator and new head coach. He’s had games in which he barely played, waiting behind players such as Ray-Ray Armstrong and Nate Stupar.
“He knows a lot about me, but this is our first year together,” Goodson said of Shurmur.
What has Shurmur learned?
“He’s tough,” the coach said. “I’m really fond of him. He’s a tough guy and he’s a football player. There’s a place on our team for guys like that.”
As for how he has approached this season with such wild swings in his playing time, Goodson said: “Just keep working. Keep my head down and keep working. I don’t look at things like that. It’s the obvious, but there are some things you can’t control. I’m happy, man.”
Happy the Giants won, too.
“It was a great team win,” he said. “I’m glad that the efforts I put toward it were able to help and complement the offense.”
And those footballs?
“I don’t know, man,” Goodson said. “I’ll probably get them when we get back.”