On that day, the 49ers franchise tagged safety signed his one-year tender at the start of camp, rather than let his arrival linger into the team’s preseason schedule.
Goldson said it was important to be accountable.
“I’m a team-player, this is where I want to be,” explained the 6-foot-2, 200-pound defensive back who’s coming off a career-high six interceptions in 2011. “Football is the most important thing to me, and my teammates, I owe it to them. That’s handled. I’m glad to be back here and get this started.”
Goldson showed up and immediately began to make the sideline-to-sideline plays that endeared him to teammates in the first place. The sixth-year veteran, who recorded 80 tackles and nine pass breakups last season, had the words “Show Up!” written out on his practice undershirt this week to drive home a certain point.
Goldson wanted to make big plays early and often last season for a defensive unit that recorded 38 takeaways in their first year under coordinator Vic Fangio. He also wanted the takeaways to continue at camp.
Showing up in competitive team periods at 49ers training camp hasn’t been a problem for Goldson and company. The league’s second-best scoring defense from a season ago has tightened up its red zone defense even more.
“We know that red zone plays a big factor in football games,” Goldson said. “That’s one thing our defense has to be good at, red zone. We’ve had the upper hand for the simple fact that all of us came back on defense and we know what we’re doing.”
Goldson understands that his offensive teammates are incorporating new weapons into Greg Roman’s system and expects things to be even more competitive in the coming days.
“They’ve got a lot of new faces, guys playing new positions,” Goldson added. “I think the competition will definitely heat up a little more as they get accustomed to what’s going on.”
Despite the defense’s standout performances early in camp, members of the offense are appreciative of such battles, including Jim Harbaugh.
In fact, the 49ers coach said he’s the happiest guy in the world because of it.
“Our defense is playing extremely well, especially this time of camp,” Harbaugh said. “If it was the other way and the offense was moving the ball down the field, down, down, down the field at will, then it would be cause for great, great concern. The fact that our defense is making the offense better, the fact that there’s 16 other teams that have to look down that gun barrel makes me the happiest guy in the world.”
“We have one of the best defenses in the league,” Walker said. “Just to go against them in the red zone is making us better. They’re going hard so that’s giving us a great look. I think just going against them every week is going to make us better in the red zone.”
Besides familiarity, the 49ers defense has communication on its side.
Goldson believes fellow starting safety
“That’s probably one of the best safeties in the league,” Goldson said. “He doesn’t get enough credit I feel like. His game has been tremendous for our football team… Playing with him has been an honor.”
Whitner’s exposure to multiple coverages from his time in Buffalo is a big advantage according to Goldson. But safeties aren’t the only ones in constant communication; cornerbacks also get in on the act.
“Our corners are more into it, not just leaving it up to the safeties to be the quarterbacks,” Goldson added. “They pick up a lot of things and come back to us like, ‘I saw this on the last play. Watch out for this.’ That helps out.”
Camaraderie amongst San Francisco’s defensive backs has been constant throughout camp. In Whitner’s most recent 49ers.com training camp blog, Goldson was called out for posting a picture of Whitner catching a nap during the player’s lunch break.
“Last I checked, he had 200 or 300 likes on that picture,” Whitner wrote, “so I’m looking forward to getting him and getting him good. It’ll be my payback.”
For now, the 49ers safety tandem can continue spoiling the fun of their offensive teammates. Pretty soon, Goldson can expect to see plenty of passes headed his way in the regular season.
“We have a good run defense, everybody knows that,” Goldson said. “If we can make them one-dimensional, that’s good for us. It gives us more opportunities to get turnovers.”
That’s exactly what Goldson and Whitner want.
“We both like to tackle and we both like to play the middle of the field and be around that football,” Goldson said.