All-Pro safety Dashon Goldson will join the Tampa Bay Buccaneers after spending his six-year career with the San Francisco 49ers. While the Bucs have found their answer at the position, the 49ers continue to search for his replacement. San Francisco is currently exploring the idea of signing 36-year-old Charles Woodson.
Goldson struck a big payday, signing a five-year, $41.25 million deal with Tampa. Even though he wanted to remain in San Francisco, they did not have the resources to retain him. So will Jim Harbaugh and Co. suffer the consequences of losing one of their top defenders?
In 2011, the 49ers defense ranked 17th in passing yards allowed per game and 10th in passing yards per attempt. Last season, the team improved to fourth and second in those areas respectively. Goldson was a main reason why.
Nicknamed “The Hawk,” Goldson has shown that he has a nose for the ball. According to Pro Football Focus, opposing quarterbacks posted a lowly 44.8 quarterback rating when throwing in his direction last year. That’s second best among safeties who played at least 75 percent of their team’s snaps. He did give up a share of big plays and can be an all-or-nothing player, but his aggressive mentality helped set the tone for team.
The 49ers will still return nine of their 11 starters, but losing a key piece in the secondary spells trouble. At this stage in his career Woodson does not possess the athleticism of Goldson. Even if the 49ers draft a young, talented safety, he’ll lack experience (through no fault of his own). Also, Carlos Rogers regressed last season and turns 32 in July.
Overall, the defense should remain top flight with their front seven and young corners in Tarell Brown and Chris Culliver. But it’s not out of the question that they take a step back in defending the pass after losing a two-time Pro Bowler in his prime.
Based on general manager Trent Baalke and Harbaugh’s run of success thus far, it’s hard to doubt them. The tandem understands how to get the most out of their players and have re-established a winning tradition to the proud franchise.
Hopefully they prove me wrong on this move.
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