You’d be hard-pressed to find a harder-hitting duo of safeties than Donte Whitner and Dashon Goldson. In their first year on the final line of the 49ers defense, Goldson and Whitner proved to be physically and mentally among the game’s elite.
But the two players aren’t one in the same. For one, you can look at their hair. Goldson’s long dreadlocks are often flying around the field as he’s making plays, while Whitner keeps his head crisp and shaved.
Then there’s the matter of their playing styles. While addressing the media on Monday, Whitner broke down the different approaches he and Goldson bring to the game.
“We’re not the same type of football player,” Whitner said. “He’s more of a center fielder, deep pass kind of guy who will take chances to get the football and still hit you. My job is to get a majority of the guys lined up to play extremely physical.”
There was a bit of uncertainty regarding Goldson’s availability heading into training camp, but the Pro Bowler inked his franchise tender with the 49ers on the same day veterans reported. Goldson’s commitment to the team was highly regarded by his teammates, Whitner included.
The early-season schedule may have also prompted a quick return for Goldson, as the 49ers are slated to face Aaron Rodgers, Matthew Stafford and Eli Manning within the first six weeks of action.
“He’s a very unselfish guy,” Whitner said. “He’s really a team player and with the uncertainty of the National Football League … and to come in here and take that risk, it sends a message to his teammates, coaching staff and the organization that I’m here to win football games.”
Between them, Whitner and Goldson tote 11 years of NFL experience. But their primary backups, including C.J. Spillman, Colin Jones and rookie Trenton Robinson, only have four years of NFL playing time between them.
Naturally, Whitner and Goldson have taken on a leadership role in the meeting rooms, helping defensive backs coach Ed Donatell spread knowledge of the game.
“We really don’t have a lot of experience behind me and Dashon,” Whitner said. “It’s our responsibility – me and him – to help the guys behind us because they don’t have experience. It’s a difference being in practice and hearing what the coaches say … and going into a football game and having the confidence to know what to do, how to do it and how to get it done.”
Robinson, a sixth-round pick of the 49ers in April’s draft, is listed at 5-foot-9, 193 pounds, while Whitner is listed at 5-10, 208 pounds. Given their similar stature, Whitner has given Robinson extra attention in the meeting rooms and on the field during practice.
It takes a dose of humility to try and educate young teammates who could eventually take your job, but it’s an undertaking Whitner enjoys.
“We have no egos in that room,” Whitner said. “If somebody sees something that I did wrong, they’ll point it out. If I see something that he does wrong or somebody else in the secondary, we’ll point it out and we can move out of there and we’re still friends, we’re still teammates. That’s the way we have to work, especially if we want to win football games and not give up big plays at the back end.”
Tags: Dashon Goldson, Donte Whitner
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