Aug. 11, 2011MAIOCCO ARCHIVE
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SANTA CLARA -- During his two weeks on the open market, free agency equaled frustration for safety Dashon Goldson.Virtually every team that needed a player at his position had already filled those roles. That seemingly included the 49ers, who picked off veteran Donte Whitner, formerly of the Buffalo Bills, with a three-year contract late last week.
Nearing the point of desperation, Goldson's agent, Drew Rosenhaus, sent a mass email Saturday to multiple representatives for most NFL teams. (The 49ers were not among the recipients.) CSNBayArea.com obtained a copy of the email, in which Rosenhaus wrote that Goldson "would be willing to sign a one year contract for approximately 3,000,000. Please let me know if you have an interest."The next day, Goldson visited the New England Patriots. One day after that, he agreed to return to the 49ers on a one-year contract worth a reported 2 million.RELATED: Dashon Goldson 2010 game logs
"Definitely frustrating," Goldson said. "At the end of the day, I'm a football player. I never thought I'd see this side of the business. But it is a business and I got a grasp of that a couple weeks ago."Goldson was back on the 49ers' practice field on Wednesday, playing catchup as he learns a new system under defensive coordinator Vic Fangio. Goldson is not expected to play Friday night in the 49ers' exhibition opener at the New Orleans Saints. And when he returns to full duty on the field, he will be paired in the secondary with a new face."I really think, right now, it will be me and Dashon, once Dashon gets caught up on the defense," Whitner said. "We've had 10 installs with, maybe, 40 defensive packages in there. You can't expect a guy to catch up the next day after getting here. They'll work him in more and more with the ones. Coach has already said it."RELATED: Donte Whitner 2010 game logs
Goldson braced himself for the end of his 49ers days after the 49ers signed Whitner to a three-year contract worth 11.75 million, including 4 million guaranteed. Goldson went on Twitter to inform his followers, "Sorry guys thanx for all ur support but not gonna be back. See ya."But there was little question the 49ers wanted Goldson all along. They were initially prepared to pay him more than the five-year, 20 million contract they awarded to retain defensive lineman Ray McDonald, a source said.But Goldson wanted to test the open market, and the 49ers pulled the offer, a source said. In response, Goldson told CSNBayArea.com on Wednesday that there was a lot of misinformation regarding his situation.VIDEO: 49ers camp report (810)
He said 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh and general manager Trent Baalke contacted him throughout the process to inform him of the organization's desire to retain him."We were really excited when Dashon decided to come back," Harbaugh said. "We told him that we needed him. And he wanted to be here. That adds a lot to our depth and experience, a guy who's been a starting safety in this league -- a physical mindset. It adds to the competition back there. Another guy who's game-tested, battle-tested."Said Goldson, "It was just a matter of time before I got here."And the timing could not have been any better. Free safety Reggie Smith, who played well in the first week of camp, sustained a knee injury over the weekend that required surgery. Fangio said the injury is "nothing serious." And Harbaugh said the move to re-sign Goldson would've been made regardless of Smith's health.When Whitner arrived, he figured Smith would be the other safety. Now, he looks at how his style as a true strong safety meshes with Goldson.
"He's more of a middle-field guy," Whitner said. "He has tremendous range and can go get the football. But in this defense, both safeties have to be interchangeable. The free has to be able to play strong, and the strong has to be able to play free."Whitner added that the safeties are asked to play a lot of different coverage in Fangio's 3-4 scheme, so flexibility is required."So you have to be interchangeable, and I think we'll work well together," he said.Goldson, who turns 27 next month, did not make as many big plays last season as he did in 2009, his first year as a starter. Goldson's interception total dropped from four to one, though he returned his one pick for a touchdown against the Seattle Seahawks' Matt Hasselbeck in December.Goldson said he met with Patriots coach Bill Belichick and received an offer from New England before deciding to return to the 49ers.RELATED: Current 49ers roster
"Belichick was one of the guys who saw a lot in me," Goldson said. "He really wanted me. There was an opportunity there, but I followed my heart on this one."I did have an offer from the Patriots. There was a lot of upside here. This is home. I wanted to come back with the guys. This organization is one of the organizations I look up to. It worked out. I'm looking forward to moving on and having a good year."And, then, Goldson will have a chance to do it all over again after his one-year deal with the 49ers expires at the end of the season.
Aug. 11, 2011MAIOCCO ARCHIVE