Well, the 49ers got a touch of bad news Monday, but responded in a big way. Upon being informed that their projected starting free safety, Reggie Smith, will miss 2-4 weeks with a injured knee, Trent Baalke went out and brought back a guy who was at the top of his list when free agency began.
Dashon Goldson, who's elevated himself into becoming one of the better safeties in the NFL over the last 2 seasons, signed a 1 year deal worth nearly $2.5 million to return to San Francisco. With Goldson's return, it certainly shakes up the 49ers secondary, that's for sure, but in a good way. While Smith has looked great in camp before the injury and was widely expected to start alongside new strong safety Donte Whitner, Goldson's return probably knocks him out of the starting lineup. With Goldson and Whitner now slated in as your projected starting safeties, the 49ers sure have a dynamic duo in the center of the field. They both are aggressive and like to move up against the run, but one of them needs to take on the more traditional free safety role and I'd expect that to be Goldson, who was a former cornerback at Washington. Goldson had 4 picks in 2009 when he was playing more of a free safety, but his picks went down and tackles went up last season as a strong safety. I would expect Smith to become the 3rd safety and still get plenty of reps, but he has to first focus on getting himself healthy. With Goldson and Whitner starting and newly signed Madeiu Williams backing up with Reggie Smith, the 49ers have 4 above average safeties and have indeed revamped their secondary.
I was a little surprised to hear of the Goldson signing, even with news of Smith's injury, as I believe the 49ers were confident with the group of safeties they now had, but it just goes to show you that they are expecting big things from themselves this season. All these one year deals they're giving away aren't moves to make them better 2-3 years down the line, that's for this season, and it's management telling their players they want to win and will do what they can to better the team. As we said in our last post, there are still plenty of suitable free agents and the 49ers still have cap space and a roster needs, so I don't think they're don yet either. They definitely need another quarterback, and there's speculation they may end up going after bay area native Josh Johnson from Tampa Bay (who's gone public with his desire to play in San Francisco). He'd not only solidify the QB spot, but would give Smith a run for the starting spot. Besides QB, I think another spot where they desperately need depth is their defensive line. We'll sort everything out and have our projected 49ers starting lineup next post when we start prepping for Friday's preseason opener.