49ers’ Position Breakdown: Free Safety
The 49ers would like their safeties to mirror each other, but since they don’t quite yet have the personnel we will still talk about the “Free” and “Strong” safeties separately.
Coming into the league, Goldson was more of an athlete then a safety, last year he turned that potential into on field production. Goldson ended the year with 94 tackles and 4 interceptions. He also put in the national spotlight by having his best game of the season in the 49ers’ Monday Night Football game verses the Cardinals. On national television, Goldson had 6 tackles and interceptions and 2 forced fumbles; making it the best game played by a 49ers’ safety since Ronnie Lott. Goldson’s talent is obvious and he will become an elite safety in this league, the problem is that I don’t know if it will be with the 49ers. Goldson has made it abundantly clear that he wants to get paid. Publicly showing that you are about your money tends to make you less popular with the media and the front office. This came out recently when the 49er Faithful clearly wanted the 49ers to sign OJ Atogwe. The 49ers weren’t interested in OJ, but their fans were. This speaks to Goldson’s standing with the fans. Goldson had a better season statistically and OJ hurt his shoulder, but the 49er Faithful still were clamoring for the Ex-Ram. If Goldson and the 49ers’ defense improve like they should, then Goldson will be a top 5 safety in the league this year.
As it stands now Reggie Smith is the back up free safety but don’t be surprised if he ends up on the practice squad. The former 3rd round pick did a decent job filling in last year while Michael Lewis was injured, but he didn’t do enough to really deserve a roster spot. Since this guy came into the league, nobody has been able to figure him out. He’s a tweener Saftey/Corner and isn’t particularly good at either.
The LSU standout has found his niche on special teams. Taylor has an unusual mix of size and speed, which hasn’t translated in the secondary thus far in his career. Smith versus Taylor for the back up role should be a very interesting battle during mini camp. Both are athletic and contribute on special teams. Either could be a solid contributor to the team. It should come down to whoever taps into their potential sooner.
I want to mention Margos because it seems like he has the tools to be a productive NFL player and maybe with the right coaching he could compete for a roster spot.