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Dashon Goldson Demonstrates Range

Posted Sep 20, 2012

It’s fitting that Dashon Goldson’s celebratory calling card is the sixth-year safety stretching both arms out to demonstrate his “Hawk” pose.

It seems like San Francisco’s Pro Bowl ball-hawking safety stretches his wings all over the field these days.

After registering his first interception last week in a 27-19 victory over the Detroit Lions, the 6-foot-2, 200-pound safety has recorded eight interceptions in his last 14 games (regular season and postseason combined).

Defensive coordinator Vic Fangio appreciates the way his starting safeties cover the field, including Goldson, who is fifth on the team with 14 tackles.

“That’s one of the big job requirements for a safety, to be able to cover, play the deep zones whether it be a half, a quarter or a third and have range coming out of those zones, and he does a good job of that,” Fangio explained on Thursday.

“He got us 6 or 7 interceptions last year, got us one the other night and he does a good job of filling on the run. He had a really good game tackling last week, which was well needed.”

Jim Harbaugh certainly recognized No. 38 in red coming up to bring down multiple ball carriers.

In his Monday press conference, the 49ers coach went out of his way to commend Goldson’s tackling efforts.

“You could highlight Dashon Goldson,” Harbaugh said. “(He) had a terrific game. Got the great interception, was real physical on the tackling and the coverage was great.”

Goldson’s tackling ability and run support will be tested this week as the 49ers face a (1-1) Minnesota Vikings team that features Adrian Peterson carrying the football and a versatile pass-catcher Percy Harvin, who lines up all over the field.

San Francisco faced a similar threat to Harvin in a Week 1 road win in Green Bay. Second-year Packers wideout Randall Cobb lined up in the backfield several times against the 49ers, who managed to limit the production of the speedy slot receiver.

“We know Percy’s a good player for them,” Goldson said of the Vikings player who’s totaled 387 total yards (188 receiving, 166 kick return yards and 33 rushing yards). “He’s a really explosive player.”

Returning the football is one thing, but Harvin also catches the ball and rushes out of the backfield.

“They use him in a lot of things,” Goldson said. “We just have to do a good job of containing him and tackling him, of course, that’s the number one thing for us, continue to tackle and not allow any yards of the catch."

If Harvin takes on a similar role this week, Goldson believes the 49ers are prepared based on their practice dealings with up-and-coming reserve players.

“We’ve got that here on our scout team,” the Pro Bowl safety explained. “We have Kyle Williams, giving us good looks. We have LaMichael James, same thing. We utilize what we have here to prepare us for our games.”

All the preparation has added up to the 49ers allowing three passing touchdowns in two games against teams with quarterbacks who passed for more than 5,000 yards in 2011.

This week, however, the 49ers expect a more balanced attack from the Vikings who will lean heavily on star running back Adrian Peterson, who doesn’t look like he’s less than a year removed from an ACL tear, according to Fangio.

“He still has his great speed, cutting ability and I’m sure that he’ll get better and better as he goes throughout the season,” explained the experienced coordinator now in his second season in San Francisco. “He still looks like the best back in the league.”

Goldson feels the same way.

“He’s very established in this league,” the 49ers safety said of Peterson. “We know what we’re going up against.”

Even so, the goal for the defense, just like any week, is to take away the run and make the opposition one-dimensional.

It won’t be easy against Peterson, but that’s the goal.

“In any game, I don’t think any team is going to fold and just give us one dimension right off the top,” Goldson added. “We’ve got to force them to be one-dimensional.”

Preparing to stop Peterson and the Vikings has been enjoyable according to the 49ers safety. After all, the team’s business-first approach stays the same week-to-week.

“It’s the mindset we have here as an organization, we come in here and prepare,” Goldson said. “We really hone in on that, we take it serious. When we’re in the classrooms or out on the field for walk-throughs before practice, all this stuff is important.”

The 49ers defensive backs take pride in understanding the opponent on a weekly basis, but they also don’t go overboard when it comes to recording takeaways.

Goldson sees the defense always playing scheme-first and not getting out of position just to take a chance at recording a turnover.

“It’s not really a competition thing, guys want to get it done. Just being in position, putting themselves in position and seeing what they can pick up from the film on how to get their hands on the ball,” Goldson said.

The quarterback who they’ll try to pick off, second-year signal called Christian Ponder, enters Sunday with an NFL-best, 75.8 percent completion percentage and two touchdowns to go against zero interceptions.

While the 49ers respect Ponder’s athleticism and improving play-making ability, they won’t relent from their goal of steady improvement.

Even with two solid defensive performances under his defense’s belt, Fangio wants them to continue to improve and not be satisfied.

“There’s always room for improvement. And particularly, one thing that play illustrates is when you make a little error, it can become a big play,” Fangio said. “Big plays are what takes down a defense faster than anything. We’ve got to be on point every play, not just when we’re in a tight game, tie score, one score behind, one score ahead. Whether we’re up 15 or three, we got to play them the same.”

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