PewterReport.com's Scott Reynolds breaks down several reasons why the Buccaneers want former 49ers Pro Bowl free safety Dashon Goldson to team up with Mark Barron in Tampa Bay's secondary. Find out why in this Pewter Report Analysis breakdown.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are very interested in signing San Francisco free safety Dashon Goldson and will have him in for the unrestricted free agent’s first visit. The reasons for the Bucs’ interest are numerous, starting with the obvious need to upgrade the secondary after Tampa Bay finished dead last in pass defense in 2012, surrendering an average of 297.4 yards per game.
Here are some other reasons why Tampa Bay is expected to make a hard push to sign Goldson, the 49ers’ franchise player in 2012, once he gets to One Buccaneer Place:
• Goldson, a two-time Pro Bowler (2011, 2012), was an All-Pro in 2012 and helped San Francisco reach the Super Bowl last season. The Bucs like his accolades, postseason experience and production.
• A six-year pro, Goldson could help be a mentor to Mark Barron, the Bucs’ first-round pick in 2012, and aid him in his development. Barron and Goldson are very similarly-built players that have the same type of abilities. Having Goldson as a role model can accelerate Barron’s learning curve in the NFL. As a 16-game starter at strong safety during his rookie season, Barron had 89 tackles, one interception and one forced fumble.
• Defensive-minded head coach Greg Schiano likes players that create turnovers, and Goldson has been a ballhawk in his six years in the league. The former 49er has picked off 14 passes and forced five fumbles. Goldson burst on the scene in 2009 as a first-time starter, notching 94 tackles, picking off four passes, forcing three fumbles and recovering a fumble. In 2011, Goldson posted a career-high six interceptions, in addition to forcing a fumble and recovering one.
• Schiano likes big defensive backs, as does Tampa Bay’s front office. At 6-foot-2, 200 pounds, Goldson would be the third-biggest safety on the team behind Barron, who is 6-foot-2, 212 pounds, and Sean Baker, who stands 6-foot-1 and weighs 209 pounds.
• The Bucs’ scouts and front office has already seen Goldson’s impact firsthand. In 2010 during Tampa Bay’s 21-0 shutout win at San Francisco, Goldson finished the game with seven tackles. A year later at the same venue in the 49ers’ 48-3 thrashing of the Buccaneers, Goldson had four tackles and a forced fumble on a huge hit against Tampa Bay wide receiver Mike Williams.
• Despite the interest in Goldson, Tampa Bay remains interested in re-signing veteran defensive back Ronde Barber. Goldson would be the team’s starting free safety if signed, but Barber would see plenty of action on the field. Tampa Bay played a great deal of dime defense in 2012, which was Schiano’s first as head coach. In the dime defense, the Bucs played three safeties with Barron at strong safety, Ahmad Black at free safety and Barber in the slot. At age 38, Barber could play a lot of hybrid safety-cornerback in nickel and dime packages next year if he re-signs with Tampa Bay. With the Bucs liking to play a lot of single high safety in Cover 3 defenses, Goldson could play centerfield instead of Barber, whose declining speed wouldn’t cause him to be exposed as much as he was in 2012. Barber has made a lot of plays closer to the line of scrimmage in the slot rather than in the defensive backfield.
• Goldson was scouted hard by new Bucs director of college scouting Eric Stokes. The former Washington Huskies standout played in the backyard of the Seattle Seahawks, where Stokes spent the first 15 years of his NFL career in scouting. Like Schiano and general manager Mark Dominik, Stokes has a fondness for big defensive backs.
• In a division that features a plethora of gifted tight ends, such as Atlanta’s Tony Gonzalez, New Orleans’ Jimmy Graham and David Thomas, and Carolina’s Greg Olsen, having a safety with range and coverage ability like Goldson fills a big need. Barber and Barron had trouble against the NFC South tight ends at times in 2012, and having Goldson’s ability to match up in single coverage against premier tight ends gives defensive coordinator Bill Sheridan greater flexibility in calling plays.
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