No question, the San Francisco 49er defense will miss Dashon Goldson. He possesses a ball-hawking attitude complementing a hard-hitting style that made the back-end of the 49er defense one of the better secondaries in the league.
The fan base will also miss Dashon Goldson. His play style was entertaining, his hair and demonstrativeness made him easy to follow, and he was with the team for six full years, four as a starter. His contributions to the 2011 playoff run were much appreciated; he had a career year, helped establish the 49ers as a hard-hitting, will-sapping physical team, and picked off Drew Brees in the team’s first playoff game since 2002.
However, in this salary cap structure, it is hard to keep good teams together. Dashon Goldson wanted top money, which for his position means $7-8 million per year. That sum is far more than the 49ers current team structure could realistically handle, especially since Goldson wasn’t the safety who organized the players on the field (Whitner is).
Dashon Goldson, however, confused want with need. His outgoing comment: “It was time to go somewhere that really wanted me” is off-base. Of course the team wanted him. Of course the fans wanted him. He was instrumental in helping build the 49ers into a contender, and entertaining along the way! If he wanted to play where he was wanted, he’d play in San Francisco.
The team had to let him go, it was a business decision. There is no want involved, just pure need. Given the 49ers team structure, a $7 million dollar safety, with over $20 million guaranteed, is just not going to work. In fact, his own career path shows why the team made the right decision and didn’t pull an Aubrey Huff, reaching to keep a championship-level team together.
The team drafted him, had him learn the position under Mark Roman, benefitted from four years of his service as a starter, and let him find that big payday somewhere else. Teams that draft, coach, and manage the salary cap are winners in the NFL. Teams that chase players in free agency tend to be losers. The Raiders have $30 million in dead cap space, for example.
It’s time for the next hard-hitting, ball-hawking safety to rise up through the draft, learn the position under Donte Whitner (and Craig Dahl), and play hard and hungry for a team-friendly contract before succeeding and chasing that big payday from another team.