Niners Don't Want Goldson to Get Away

Team may use franchise tag to keep free-agent safety in place for next season

Just a day after the San Francisco 49ers’ season came to an end with an overtime loss to the New York Giants in the NFC Championship Game in January, safety Donte Whitner already was making a pitch for next season.

Whitner, who paired with Dashon Goldson to give the Niners a physical twosome at safety, wants the team to re-sign his free-agent partner.

“We have real good chemistry back there,” Whitner told the San Francisco Chronicle’s Eric Branch. “Teams know when they play us, they’re going to get hit. We’re going to be physical and we’re going to get everybody lined up. Me personally, I would like to see him stay.”

Apparently, the feeling is mutual on the part of the 49ers and Goldson, too.

Goldson, 27, can be a free agent on March 13. The Pro Bowl free safety had signed a one-year deal to stay in San Francisco last summer, reportedly for a base salary of about $1 million, reports

Goldson said on a Bay Area radio station last week he doesn’t want to go anywhere else.

“I think those guys are excited about me being there and I’m sure they want me back,” Goldson said. “They’ve expressed how much they want me back. I want to be back there. Like I said, if I’m not there, I’d be shocked.”

The Chronicle reported it’s possible the team will use its franchise tag on Goldson, which would be expected to bring him a deal of about $6.4 million for 2012.

If Goldson were to hit the open market, it’s believed several teams would be interested in him.

Nick Eatman, writing for the Dallas Cowboys’ website in assessing possible free-agent safeties, wrote Goldson would be “one of the top two or three safeties on the open market.”

This past season, the 6-foot-2, 200-pound Goldson made his first Pro Bowl. He tied for the team lead in interceptions with six and delivered some crushing hits in supporting the run defense and in the secondary. In 14 games, he made 67 tackles and forced a fumble. He and Whitner were a big factor in the team’s excellent play against the run in 2011-12.

The 49ers, if they want to keep their secondary intact, also will need to re-sign cornerback Carlos Rogers, who also went to the Pro Bowl in his first season with the team after coming to San Francisco as a free agent last summer.

Goldson returned to the 49ers last summer after it appeared the long-time starter would go elsewhere. When he re-signed with San Francisco, he had worked out the day before with the New England Patriots. He even had said goodbye to Niners fans via Twitter, writing, “Sorry guys. Thanx for all ur support but not gonna be back. See ya.”

Fortunately for San Francisco, he returned. And now it appears the Niners don’t want to let him slip away.

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