While the 49ers are hoping for improvement from their own rookie free safety, Eric Reid, their former free safety, Dashon Goldson, is in a bit of trouble with the league. The NFL has announced that Goldson is suspended without pay for one game due to "a flagrant and repeat violation of ... rules prohibiting hits to the head and neck area."
The suspension comes following his illegal hit on New Orleans Saints running back Darren Sproles on Sunday. This came a week after Goldson was flagged and subsequently fined $30,000 for an illegal hit on Jeff Cumberland. These two penalties were his eighth and ninth unnecessary roughness or personal foul penalties since the start of the 2011 season.
A significant part of Dashon Goldson's game is the intimidation factor. He is a notable ball hawk, but he is also a guy looking to get in the big hit. That can be valuable when it results in players developing alligator arms in his vicinity, but the team also knows they will have to deal with the accompanying penalties. It was not a question of if Dashon Goldson would ever get suspended, but when.
More often than not, the 49ers benefited from the intimidation of Goldson. They took some tough penalties, but it seemed like they were usually able to overcome the penalties. Now, they have a new free safety in Eric Reid. He suffered a head injury as he was actually adjusting his head to avoid a helmet-to-helmet hit. He is going through the concussion protocol, and seems to have passed the first test toward returning to the field.
Reid has made some big plays for the 49ers through his first two games, but he has also generally avoided that "big hit" mentality of Goldson. He is there to make the stop, but he does not feel the need to light someone up, and potentially hurt them. The most notable was on an Aaron Rodgers scramble. Reid flew in and took down Rodgers with a technically sound tackle. He had a chance for the big hit, but instead got the sure tackle. Hopefully we'll see a lot of that in the years to come.
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