The San Francisco 49ers have a few interesting decisions to make on defense heading into 2013. One of those decisions pertains to whether or not the Niners’ front office should focus on keeping the safety tandem of Dashon Goldson and Donte Whitner in tact.
Goldson, after playing under the franchise tag in 2012, is a free agent and is seeking out a well-deserved long-term contract. Whitner is signed through the 2013 season, but will make $4.9 million in the final year of a three-year deal. Somehow, his physical tools seem to diminish as each year passes. Then again, he was never all that athletically gifted to begin with.
As far as Goldson is concerned, I mentioned in a previous post that I feel he’s worth a hefty payday. But in the same breath, San Fran won’t have a ton of cap space to play with for one thing. It’s also a challenge to dump a truckload of loot at his doorstep when your other safety is hauling in a nice chunk of change and you have two All-Pro inside linebackers (that are paid like it) playing in front of them.
Whitner is only 27 years old and has good football smarts, but his feet don’t always keep pace with his mind. There’s a handful of talented safeties (both free and strong) in the draft and free agency this spring and the 49ers would be wise to at least consider a possible replacement at each safety position.
The ideal answer would likely be to bring Goldson back at a reasonable price, keep Whitner for 2013 and see if you can’t invest some money and draft picks into bolstering a defensive line that seemingly took a step back in 2012. Then, if Whitner is anything less than reliable this season, he’ll be a free agent and it won’t cost you anything to part ways with him.
So, in reality, GM Trent Baalke and Co. don’t have to do anything with Whitner this season. In order to re-sign Goldson (if they choose to go that route), though, a veteran may have to hit the road before his contract expires.
Will that be Whitner? Guess we can only wait and see.