The realization of losing FS Dashon Goldson to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers still leaves a bitter taste in my mouth. He was the unquestioned heart and soul of the secondary, and provided a physical presence that has not been seen from the safety position since the days of former San Francisco 49er Lance Schulters. However, all good things must come to an end, and the 49ers now find themselves searching for Goldson’s replacement.
No disrespect to newly acquired SS Craig Dahl, but he is not the answer. He is a liability in pass coverage and does not possess the necessary range to cover the deep-half. He is a serviceable player at best. Which is why the Niners must draft a starting caliber free-safety. A few names that may be available when the 49ers are on the clock with the 31st pick in the first-round include, FS Jonathan Cyprien (FIU), FS Eric Reid (LSU), and FS Matt Elam (Florida). All of those players would be a nice addition to the secondary, and would help alleviate the loss of Goldson.
However, should the 49ers decide to pass on a free-safety, could be an indication that current cornerbacks CB Chris Culliver or CB Nnamdi Asomugha may assume that role. The 49ers already have a log jam at the cornerback position with CB Carlos Rogers, CB Tarrell Brown, Culliver, and now Asomugha. If the 49ers decide to utilize their talents, they should strongly consider sliding Culliver or Asomugha to the vacant free-safety position.
Believe it or not, Culliver’s natural position is free-safety as he played that position in college at South Carolina. He was projected by many scouts to be a free-safety coming out of the draft, but the 49ers opted to place him as the nickel and dime cornerback, allowing them to take advantage of Culliver’s speed and big body against a smaller slot receiver. The move would do wonders for Culliver, and I believe he will thrive.
Another option would be to try Asomugha at that position if all else fails. Sure, there would be some type of learning curve for the former All-Pro, but Asomugha has a very high football IQ, and his ability to adjust should be seamless. He thrives in a read and react scheme, so having him mirror the quarterback, will allow for more interceptions, which will then lead to better time of possession for the offense.
I’m not sure the 49ers will give Asomugha or Culliver a shot at the free-safety position as it is just a thought. However, should the Niners decide to draft a safety, it better be early, as the NFL Draft is top heavy at the position.