SANTA CLARA, California: Dashon Goldson has a stack of envelopes in his locker, the paperwork for every time the NFL has fined the San Francisco 49ers safety.
While he has heard from the league office more than a dozen times in his six-year career, the letters often had little to do with his hard-hitting ways until this season.
Goldson estimates he has been fined $70,000 for socks, pants and other uniform violations — about $5,000 for each offense. He said his latest letter from the NFL, however, notified him of a $21,000 fine for an illegal hit last Sunday on New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez, which Goldson plans to appeal.
All the crackdowns have earned the 49ers’ franchise-tagged player a new league label: Multiple offender. The Hawk, as teammates call Goldson for swooping in for hits on receivers, said the fines still won’t change the way he plays when the 49ers face the Seattle Seahawks tomorrow with a chance to clinch the NFC West title.
“I don’t have time to sit there and dictate in the timespan I have as a football player when I’m on the football field to dictate what’s a clean and what’s a not-so-clean hit,” Goldson said. “I’m not a dirty player. And that’s just that.” Goldson, playing on a one-year contract of $6.2 million, has had multiple fines for his play. Among them: — $7,875 for a late hit on sliding St. Louis quarterback Sam Bradford on Dec. 2.
— $7,875 for taunting — unsportsmanlike conduct — after tackling Seattle running back Marshawn Lynch in October.
— $25,000 for punching Arizona receiver Early Doucet in November 2011 (Doucet was fined $10,000 for unnecessary roughness for striking Goldson in the helmet area).
— $5,000 for a late hit on Oakland receiver Louis Murphy in October 2010.
In his latest offense, officials whistled Goldson for a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty after he barreled into Hernandez as the tight end was still in the air and turning to make a catch in the third quarter of San Francisco’s 41-34 victory in Foxborough. Goldson put his feet together, spread his arms out wide and looked to the sky in a celebration that is becoming routine in San Francisco’s secondary.
Niners defensive coordinator Vic Fangio disagreed with the call, but he understands that it’s part of the NFL’s safety-first approach to protect defenseless receivers.
“He wrapped the guy up, hit him right here in the chest area,” Fangio said. “I think what’s happened, if it looks bad, the league has told officials to err on the side of caution.” The violent collisions are a staple of San Francisco’s defense.
Goldson believes the style is a big reason why the 49ers are tied with the Seahawks for the best scoring defense in the league, allowing only 15.6 points per game. On the next play against the Patriots, for instance, Hernandez looked timid and had a pass from Tom Brady pop off his hands that Aldon Smith scooped up for an interception.
“Hits like that get wide receivers the short hands,” Goldson said. “It’s been proven throughout this league for years, and it’s been proven since me and Donte (Whitner) have been back there making hits and our whole defense.” Goldson has three interceptions this season after six last year — he had five in his four seasons combined. Others also have taken notice.
Seahawks coach Pete Carroll praised the physicality of San Francisco’s secondary this week. Looking back at the 49ers’ 13-6 victory over Seattle at Candlestick Park in Week 7, Carroll said rookie quarterback Russell Wilson will have to be aware of Goldson and Whitner if they want a different result the second time around.
“Their safeties are ridiculous,” Carroll said.
The only concern Goldson has about his rising reputation is that he could face a possible suspension if he’s flagged for enough hits. While he wants players to be intimidated by his presence, he said he’s not trying to hurt anybody and practices proper techniques. He also doesn’t want to be known as the league’s hardest hitter.
“I just want to be known,” Goldson said, “as a good football player.”