Without question, San Francisco 49ers safety Dashon Goldson has emerged into one of the NFL's best safeties over the past two years. In both 2011 and 2012, he was named to the Pro Bowl. This past year also marked the first year where he was named to the league's All-Pro squad.
It took the former fourth-round pick out of Washington some time to come into his own, but seemingly defensive coordinator Vic Fangio helped speed up the process. Since Jim Harbaugh and his staff took over the Bay Area, Goldson has become a human turnover-creating machine.
From the beginning of the 2011 season to the end of the 2012 postseason, no 49er defender has been able to force more turnovers than his 14. Moreover, according to the analysts at Pro Football Focus, he amassed a plus-6.3 grade this season and he finished the season by allowing one of the lowest quarterback ratings against.
His 44.8 rating against was the ninth-lowest mark at his position leaguewide and the fourth-lowest mark in the NFC. An absolute step in the right direction after a subpar 2011 season in coverage. Last year, he was burnt to the tune of five touchdowns, 596 yards allowed and a quarterback rating against of 90.9.
Which means from last year to this year he improved or stayed the same in every major statistical coverage category, except for interceptions. Goldson has the reputation to be known as a gambler in coverage, so that could be one of the reasons for a decrease in interceptions.
Less risk equals less reward. Yet the risk is a part of the reason as to why he will will be seeing a monster payday before the beginning of the 2013 season. Based on Goldson's comments to Sacramento Bee reporter Matt Barrows, he wants no part of the franchise tag for the second straight year:
I felt that they wanted me to prove myself, and I think I did just that. So if I was in the position again with the franchise tag, I'd be very surprised.
I think that guys that got deals done were deserving. It was a little, like, "Wow. Ok." But I had to stay focused on what was more important, and that was the team and getting to the Super Bowl.
His play proved to play a large role in getting the 49ers to the Super Bowl, but was his play strong enough to warrant a multiyear deal that compares to that of Chargers safety Eric Weddle? According to Rotoworld, Goldson is said to be seeking a five-year deal worth $40 million or more.
Weddle received $19 million in guaranteed money, so it's only safe to assume the 28-year-old safety would want the same thing. The question from there becomes: Is he worth $19 million guaranteed? As good as you want to believe he is, the answer is no.
With the 49ers cap number already being plenty high, there's no way the 49ers could justify spending that amount of money on him. By no means is Goldson a top-five safety—shoot, he's barely a top-10 safety in my eyes.
When I evaluate him, there are two things that immediately jump out at me. No. 1, he misses a lot of tackles, and No. 2, his chaotic play leads to too many penalties. Over the past two years, he has missed 24 tackles in open space.
His 15 missed tackles in 2012 tied him for the eighth-highest mark at the safety position. It's also worth mentioning that he was the most penalized player at his position as well. At season's end, Goldson had drawn six penalty flags with none of them being declined by the opposition.
However, I'm not saying the bad outweighs the good—it's the complete opposite. No. 38 has top-notch ball skills and is seemingly always around the football. He has a skill set that puts him in the upper echelon of safeties in the NFL.
Above is a list of safeties who carried the highest cap number in the NFL. There are a couple of names who don't belong in the top five. Weddle was sixth on that list and Goldson wasn't far behind at No. 9. In 2012, the franchise tag carried a $6,212,000 price tag, and in 2013 it carries a $7.45 million price tag.
If I'm San Francisco, I use the tag on him again this season with the intentions of letting him walk after 2013, or I get him to sign a multiyear deal that only guarantees the first two years of the deal. That way you can let him walk when he turns 30.
It's hard to foresee him getting any better. Personally, I believe next season he will look a lot like he did in 2012—very good, but not great. Too much inconsistent play for me, there's no way I would guarantee him $20 million.
A lower number in the $12 to $14 million range yes, but $20 million, no.
Drop a comment below and let me know how much you think Goldson is worth to the 49ers in guaranteed money.