5 Reasons the San Francisco 49ers Will Be Fine Without Dashon Goldson
The San Francisco 49ers are on a mission to win a Super Bowl, and it’s going to take much more than the loss of a couple starters to keep this team from being favorites to repeat as NFC Champions in 2013.
That said, safety Dashon Goldson and tight end Delanie Walker have been vital to the recent success of the franchise, and their replacements will undoubtedly have some big shoes to fill.
In addition to Goldson and Walker, defensive tackles Isaac Sopoaga and Ricky Jean Francois have departed via free agency as well.
Goldson, a two-time Pro Bowl selection and 2012 All-Pro, will likely be the most difficult to replace, however. The 28-year-old DB hauled in nine interceptions over the past two seasons and recorded 136 tackles, quickly gaining a reputation as one of the NFL’s heavy hitters.
Losing such an impactful player is tough to overcome, but the 49ers appeared fully prepared to do so, and couldn’t have picked a better time. Trent Baalke and Co. opted not to place the franchise tag on Goldson for a second straight season and didn’t even offer him a contract before he signed a five-year, $41.25 million deal with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Wednesday.
Goldson finally got his well-deserved contract and his six years in the Bay Area were greatly appreciated, but this hardly means the Niners defense will be taking a step back this coming season. In fact, if they play their cards right, there’s no reason the unit can’t emerge from training camp stronger than ever before.
Here are five reasons the San Francisco 49ers will be just fine without Goldson as a member of their secondary.
Plenty of Alternate Options For the Free Safety Position
The Niners have already spent time with veteran defensive back Charles Woodson in their search of a replacement to play alongside strong safety Donte Whitner, and the team has shown interest in Ed Reed as well.
Regardless of whether or not SF can land one of the two former All-Pro DBs, it will almost certainly address the situation in the upcoming draft. Luckily for the 49ers, the 2013 draft class is surprisingly loaded with safeties capable of starting immediately or at least very close to it.
The Penalties Will Not Be Missed
Goldson did a lot of things very well, trash talking and delivering bone-crushing hits among them, but an excessive amount of penalties served as one of his downfalls. And it’s not so much about how many fouls he committed as it was the timing of them.
Many of the flags No. 38 has drawn over the past couple of seasons are of the 15-yard variety, whether they be the result of a hit on a defenseless receiver or for losing his temper at the wrong time. Some were debatable calls, but penalties like that usually are, and his often helped the opposing offense extend drives in crucial third-down situations.
Can Become Less Susceptible to the Deep Ball
Goldson looked much more responsible in coverage throughout the 2012 season than in years prior, but when there were mental lapses in the secondary, it seemed as though he was usually the culprit. Defensive coordinator Vig Fangio’s defense can be difficult to digest, but it only takes a single missed assignment to change the outcome of the game.
A veteran like Reed or Woodson would go a long way in minimizing these types of mistakes.
The Money Saved is Being Used Wisely
For as nice as it would have been to see Goldson back in Red and Gold for 2013 and beyond, we can all agree that the money he would’ve tied up long-term is already being put to good use. The Niners took on WR Anquan Boldin’s $6 million salary for 2013 after sending a sixth-round pick to Baltimore for his services. His leadership and clutch play will do wonders for the entire offense.
Additionally, defensive tackle Glenn Dorsey was brought in via free agency on a two-year deal. He actually has the potential to be an upgrade over Sopoaga at nose tackle and is versatile enough to play defensive end as well.
The NFC West Goes Through SF, With or Without Goldson
At the risk of sounding like a homer, I seriously believe the 2013 version of the 49ers has the potential to outperform the previous two squads Baalke and Co. have assembled. San Fran has quickly become a hotbed for veteran free agents in search of a ring, and no team can hoist the Lombardi Trophy without an ample amount of leadership and experience on board.
Even without Goldson and the others lost to free agency, the 49ers are loaded with talent, experience and leadership. They’re also equipped with one of the NFL’s most promising young QBs in Colin Kaepernick, who is surrounded with dangerous weapons. The offense is quickly becoming one of the more explosive units in the league and, despite the fact that the Seattle Seahawks are doing everything in their power to overtake control of the division, the Niners are still the favorites to sit atop the NFC West at season’s end.