In the last few days, it has been made public that Dashon Goldson has not signed his Franchise Tender, worth $6.2 million for one year. He has made it known that he looking for a contract similar to he one that Eric Weddle signed with the Chargers for 5 years at $40 million, but it is the contention of most in the know that the 49ers are unwilling to pay him that much money. So what is the end game here? Will the 49ers cave first and pay Dashon Goldson top dollar even though some think he doesn’t deserve it? Or will Dashon give in and sign the Franchise tag, and work on a long term deal during the season or try free agency in the off season?
The 49ers obviously saw this problem coming this off season, they drafted Trenton Robinson from Michigan State in the 6th round of the draft and also grabbed 3 other undrafted rookie safeties in Mark Legree from Appalachian State, Colin Jones from Texas Christian and Michael Thomas from Stanford (where he played under Defensive Coordinator Vic Fangio). The addition of these 4 safeties as well as the increased reps that backup safety C.J. Spillman is receiving due to Dashon’s abscence from OTA’s, means that this is not something that is going to shake the 49ers organization to it’s core. I believe this will be a “next man up” scenario for the Niners. This is not a position of a lot of depth for the 49ers but it is a position that has a lot of promise, albeit under the radar. When you enter a season with as much hype and expectations as the 49ers have this season, question marks and hold outs at a particular position are not good for your team. Having the Dashon Goldson conundrum hanging over your head could be just the distraction this team doesn’t need.
I think that it is almost a given that Dashon will sign his $6.2 million tender before the season but at what cost? More than the financial cost there is the distraction caused by however long this hold out will be. Should the 49ers be doing more to get Goldson a long term deal? 6 interceptions and his first Pro Bowl after taking a pay cut to come back to the team in 2011 says yes, they should be paying this man his money already. On the other hand, an NFC Championship game in which he was almost invisible (5 tackles, 1 pass defended) and a more than generous Franchise Tag offer says maybe he should just sign it and worry about long term next year or test the free agent market in 2013. It would be hard to argue that Dashon will get his money one way or the other, some one will pay him and why shouldn’t it be the 49ers? Safety is the one position of concern for this team if you wanted to nit-pick about it. While yes, Goldson did have 6 interceptions last season, the 49ers ranked 16th against the pass and would like to improve that statistic this season with another solid year and some better coverage from their safeties when it comes to the deep ball (they allowed 48 passes of 20 or more yards and 12 passes of 40 or more yards, 5th worst in the NFL). Dashon is definitely a hard hitter, with a pension for causing fumbles and coming up in run support, but that does make him vulnerable when it comes to playaction.
Let’s be honest, Dashon’s good plays are more visible than his bad plays from last season because when he made a bad play most of the time the rest of the defense helped out and saved him. I am not implying in any way that he had more bad than good plays but take a look at some film from that NFC Championship and tell me that Dashon didn’t look lost on a lot of plays and make some bad moves at the ball when he should have just played sound defense and made the tackle and/or batted the ball away. To me, it seemed as if he was trying to make a highlight reel on every play, which is something that he shouldn’t do, just make basic, smart football plays and the whole team will be on a highlight reel, at the White House, giving Barack Obama a jersey and hoisting the Lombardi Trophy.
So, what should the 49ers do here? Honestly, I say get him to sign the tender and then if you think that C.J. Spillman and the rookies you decide to keep (most likely Robinson and Thomas) can handle the backup role then trade him. There will be a market for him, either for a pick or two or a player. The problem is, if Dashon gets labeled as a head case, or a diva thanks to this hold out, would any team touch him? Or even talk to the Niners about taking him? Probably not. Once a player gets labeled as a problem, most teams won’t touch him, unless you are Cincinnati or Dallas (burn). So even though I think the 49ers would probably be better off without Dashon Goldson given the current circumstances, I imagine he will sign the tender within the next month and then test free agency next year. It’s sad too because after what he did last year I had a lot of respect for Dashon and without him putting up a fuss over this tender, I still would. If he has signed the tender with a promise from the 49ers about negotiating a long term deal during the season, then I don’t think we would even be talking about this. As it stands however, it’s the classic scenario of Dashon thinking the Niners owe him something and the 49ers thinking the opposite. Typically in these situations the team comes out on top unfortunately for Dashon. That’s why he is better off just signing the tender now and take what is (in most people’s opinion) a pretty lucrative contract. Even if it is only for one season.