When the 49ers entertain Charles Woodson one day, then two days later post a photo of Craig Dahl signing a contract with a feather pen while wearing a San Francisco 49ers cap, the fans are going to get antsy. That’s just the nature of the beast. People want to be wowed during free agency. They want to steal away the players they’ve been watching star for other teams with envy, and most who follow the 49ers haven’t even heard of Dahl — even though he started all 16 games for the St. Louis Rams last season and has played eight times against San Francisco, registering 34 tackles and a sack in those games.
The 49ers certainly knew who he was, even if most of us didn’t:
“We are pleased to announce the signing of Craig,” said 49ers General Manager Trent Baalke. “He is an experienced veteran with excellent intangibles, who has working knowledge of the NFC West.”
If one looks at Dahl as Dashon Goldson’s replacement, of course it seems disappointing. Dahl surely came much cheaper, and is nearly anonymous compared to The Hawk. But I’d be surprised if Dahl starts at either safety spot in Week 1. This seems more like a signing that adds depth — the 49ers would’ve been screwed last season if either Goldson or Whitner missed games — and versatility.
Dahl made 37 special teams tackles in four years with the Rams. So like Dan Skuta, the inside linebacker was signed two days ago, the 49ers may feel that they have a capable defensive backup who can help shore up their kickoff return coverage (which wasn’t good in 2012). Dahl will go into camp hoping for a shot to start, and he might get one. He has started 42 games in his career, after all.
There are still many available free agent safeties and the 49ers have a bunch of draft picks they can turn into multiple safeties or one really good safety. Dahl isn’t the last addition to the 49ers’ secondary, so while Baalke’s statement isn’t likely to sell many “DAHL” jerseys, there’s plenty of offseason left.