Dashon Goldson is not the player you think he is. Regardless of his Pro Bowl selections and his five-year, $41.25M contract, Goldson performs as well as one might expect a journeyman safety to. But, don’t take my word for it.
Last Summer, following the Raiders extension of Tyvon Branch, I (prudently) argued that the 49ers would be wise not to resign to Goldson. Then, I cited a few excerpts of articles written for ProFootball Focus (PFF) and Walter Football. And, because I’m a traditionalist, I’ll do the same now.
According to PFF, in 2011, Goldson wasn’t as good as his billing. “His overall grade of -8.1 sees him rank 69th out of 87 qualifying safeties (who played 295 snaps or more),” PFF wrote, “seeing him rank alongside such luminaries as Jordan Babineaux of Tennessee, Charlie Peprah of Green Bay, and Matt Giordano of Oakland.”
This regular season, Goldson faired better, but not five-years and $41.25 million better. By PFF’s measure, Goldson was the 20th best safety in the league, ranking along side Seattle’s Kam Chancellor and New England’s Tavon Wilson.
PFF isn’t the only organization that found Goldson’s regular season performance to be average — at best. Advanced NFL Stats, too, ranked Goldson 20th in Win Probability Added, which measures a player’s individual impact on the game.
Still, in the playoffs, Goldson showed an entirely different side to his game. Unfortunately, that side was even worse than mediocre. In 370 postseason snaps, Goldson has allowed 14 receptions on 19 targets for 242 yards and two touchdowns. In total, for as bad as Whitner obviously was in the playoffs, PFF ranked Goldson even worse (0.4 in 2011 and -3.5 in 2012).
So, while there was some discontent regarding the selection of Eric Reid and his ability to replace Goldson, there shouldn’t be. Even if Reid never lives up to the expectations of a mid-first round pick, he doesn’t need to in order to effectively replace Goldson. He just needs to be better than mediocre. Given the track record of the 49ers’ coaching staff, mediocre is probably Reid’s floor. On the other hand, it’s apparent that mediocre was Goldson’s ceiling.