It is no surprise that Dashon Goldson's return to San Francisco is getting plenty of discussion in the media. We have already seen articles about his spontaneous visit to the team facilities. And it's a cool story. I like the fact that he did return.
Moreover, we are seeing a few articles about the fact that Eric Reid is filling in for Goldson well. And it's true. Actually, that perhaps understates the situation a bit. Not only has Reid "filled in" for Goldson, but I think he is consistently playing at a higher level than Goldson did while he was a 49er. With Reid and Donte Whitner working together, the secondary has gone from being an inconsistent performer on this defense to a major strength. Coverage has tightened up considerably.
Dan Brown pointed out some interesting statistical information: "As it turns out, they may have wound up with an upgrade at a fraction of the price. Pro Football Focus, which uses game film to grade every player on every play, ranks Reid as the No. 23 safety in the NFL, with Goldson at No. 82 out of 86 players ranked at the position."
A basic look at regular, counting stats supports this position.
Eric Reid: 13 Games, 3 INTs for 54 Yards, 9 Passes Defended, 2 Fumble Recoveries, 45 Tackles, 11 Assists.
Dashon Goldson: 10 Games, 1 INT for 0 Yards, 7 Passes Defended, 1 Forced Fumble, 1 Fumble Recovery, 41 Tackles, 15 Assists.
In a lot of ways, these stats are a bit comparable, though Reid's are obviously better. And, when we put the stats in the context of the improved coverage Reid provides, the contrast is even sharper.
But, one stat really sticks out most in my mind: Reid's 13 games to Dashon's 10. Now, I'm not going to fault a guy for getting hurt, like Goldson has. Reid himself has been hurt in two games, which is the same amount Goldson has missed due to injury.
But, Goldson also saw a one game suspension for an illegal hit. Having watched Goldson for years, I am altogether unsurprised at the suspension. He constantly drew penalties for borderline hits.
So, while I appreciate Goldson's time with the 49ers and am grateful for all his hard work, I don't miss the penalties. And, Reid is playing so well that there is no reason to look back, except when the Bucs come to town to remind us how well Reid is really playing for a rookie.