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Goldson Facing Familiar Foe

Posted Dec 12, 2013

Thursday Notes: The Bucs hope to glean whatever inside information they can from former 49ers safety Dashon Goldson this week...Plus, an injury update and how Mason Foster has helped Lavonte David



STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • The Bucs are picking S Dashon Goldson's brain for 49er information but know the San Fran offense hasn't sat still
  • WR Vincent Jackson appears to be a bit farther along in his progress towards game day than he was last week
  • LB Mason Foster's selfless work has helped fuel teammate Lavonte David's Pro Bowl run
On Wednesday, as his team began preparing for a visit from the 9-4 San Francisco 49ers, Tampa Bay Buccaneers Head Coach Greg Schiano was asked how much safety Dashon Goldson might be able to contribute to the game plan.  Goldson is in his first year with the Buccaneers after six outstanding years as a member of the 49ers' defense, and in the past two years he shared a practice field with Jim Harbaugh, Greg Roman and the San Francisco offense.

Schiano's answer: "A lot."

Okay, the entire response was, "A lot, both on the field and up in the meeting room," but the answer was still very brief, and just as clear.  The Buccaneers' coaching staff intended to pick Goldson's brain to gain any inside information they could find in stopping a talented and unique San Francisco offense.  Not only do the 49ers run the football on a higher percentage of downs than any other team in the league, but they can line up in formations that appear to be run-heavy – with two tight ends, two backs or both – and attack in unpredictable manners thanks to versatile talents like tight end Vernon Davis.  Pre-snap shifts can confuse the defense and lead to mismatches.

Goldson knows all of this, but he also knows that the 49ers' offense has evolved since he left, and that the coaches make an effort to remain unpredictable from week to week.

"It's hard because their coach is great and they do a great job of switching it up," he said.  "They keep teams off balance and don't show the same stuff every week.  With their shifts and motions they try to get you to think a little bit, get you off balance, and then, bam, they hit you over the top or get an explosive play with [running back] Frank [Gore]."

Goldson's impact on the Bucs' preparations appear to be going beyond whatever information he can share.  The veteran safety was a captain on a team that reached last year's Super Bowl, and he's assumed the same role in Tampa.  His teammates appreciated his leadership and that gives them a little extra motivation this week.

-- S D. Goldson was a team captain in San Francisco and he has taken on the same role in Tampa
“He’s been giving us everything, he’s been spilling the beans and we definitely appreciate that," said cornerback Darrelle Revis.  "We want to get this win for Dashon. We know he was one of the captains on that team and one of the leaders and a core guy on that squad. We want to get the win for him.”

Goldson left the 49ers to sign a long-term free agent deal with the Buccaneers during the offseason.  His first year with his new team will not result in a playoff spot, but his old squad has a very good chance of making it back to the postseason and getting a chance to defend its conference championship.  Despite that, Goldson is not second-guessing his decision to move across country, and he's confident that good times are still ahead in Tampa.

"I don’t regret my decision to come here at all," he said.  "I think I'm in a great place and I'm happy to be here. I'm going to be here locked down for a couple more years and I'm excited about it. I'm in a good place, I'm ready right now and I'm feeling pretty good. We've got a good team coming in and it's going to be a great challenge for our football team. We'll try to make things difficult for them."

Goldson has sat out several games in his first Buccaneer season due to a knee injury and a short NFL suspension based on a series of flagged hits.  Obviously, that missed time has a quantitative impact on what Goldson has been able to contribute in 2013, but he's still made a very positive difference, both with his play and his leadership.

“I think he’s meant a lot for our entire team," said Schiano.  "I think he brought a leadership, a sense of confidence, into our secondary, into our defense and ultimately into our whole locker room. He’s a popular guy on the team.

“He’s missed three and a half games, really, is what it amounts to. In my opinion, he’s definitely worth the investment. I’d do it over again in a heartbeat.”

* Four players were held out of Wednesday's practice at One Buccaneer Place.  Three of them returned to the field on Thursday, albeit on a limited basis.

Only guard Carl Nicks did not practice at all, and Nicks hasn't taken the field since undergoing foot surgery in Week Five.  Wide receiver Vincent Jackson (hamstring), defensive end Da'Quan Bowers (knee) and center Jeremy Zuttah (shoulder) all saw their status improve on Day Two of practice, if only incrementally.

Jackson seems to be following a similar progression to last week, when he saw little action on Wednesday and Thursday, went through the lighter work on Friday and then was able to play – and play effectively – on Sunday against Buffalo.  On Thursday, Schiano said that his number-one receiver appears to be a little farther along in that progression this week, which is obviously good news for the Buccaneers, but the team will remain cautious.

“I think he’s a little bit better," said Schiano.  "Our goal is to get him back to being [fully healthy]. I want to be real careful because, with him, his legs are everything.”

Because of the time-zone difference between the Bucs' and 49ers' practices, their official injury report for Thursday will likely not be included in the NFL's early-evening update.  The above status indicators for Buccaneer players were taken from Schiano's post-practice comments.  Below is the injury report each team submitted on Wednesday.

Buccaneers:

Player

Injury

Wed. Participation

DE Da'Quan Bowers

Knee

Did Not Participate

LB Lavonte David

Back

Full Participation

DE William Gholston

Head

Full Participation

DT Gary Gibson

Calf

Full Participation

WR Vincent Jackson

Hamstring

Did Not Participate

G Davin Joseph

Knee/Shoulder

Did Not Participate

G Carl Nicks

Foot

Did Not Participate

DT Akeem Spence

Wrist

Full Participation

C Jeremy Zuttah

Shoulder

Did Not Participate


49ers:

Player

Injury

Wed. Participation

CB Tarell Brown

Ribs

Limited Participation

WR Michael Crabtree

Ankle

Limited Participation

S Craig Dahl

Ankle

Limited Participation

RB Frank Gore

Ankle

Limited Participation

G Mike Iupati

Knee

Limited Participation

WR Mario Manningham

Knee

Limited Participation

DT Ray McDonald

Ankle

Did Not Participate

TE Vance McDonald

Ankle

Limited Participation

LB Dan Skuta

Foot

Limited Participation

LB Aldon Smith

Shoulder

Full Participation

DT Justin Smith

Shoulder

Did Not Participate

G Adam Snyder

Not Injury Rel.

Did Not Participate

T Joe Staley

Knee

Full Participation


* Lavonte David's mounting Pro Bowl buzz is real, encouraging and fully deserved.

And a little uncomfortable for David.

The Buccaneers' second-year linebacker is as humble and unassuming as they come, and he's clearly not comfortable taking too much credit when things are going well for Tampa Bay's defense, as they have been in recent weeks.  David also isn't fond of being compared to likely Hall of Famer Derrick Brooks, one of the greatest players in team history, out of respect for Brooks' accomplishments and his importance to the franchise.

There is some comparison to be made, however, at least in terms of role.  In his prime and the prime of the Buccaneers' great defense of the mid-90s to mid-00s, the schemes were often designed to funnel the action to Brooks to make the most of his immense talents.  That is true in some respect this year for David, as well, and one of the players who helps make that happen is fellow linebacker Mason Foster, perhaps David's closest friend on the team.

“Mason plays the MIKE linebacker and there isn’t a down in football, especially in the running game, where they’re not going to have a guy assigned to block the MIKE," said Defensive Coordinator Bill Sheridan.  "Lavonte plays behind Gerald [McCoy] and so there’s no doubt he is protected a little bit more in the run game and more likely to just  be able to run and scrape and make tackles, where Mase lines up to what we call the bubble – the uncovered guard – so he’s going to get blocked every single down."

Sheridan is making a point that David surely agree with whole-heartedly.  As talented as David is, defensive scheme and teammates like Foster making that scheme work have allowed his talent to shine.  Like David, Sheridan wants Foster to get some credit as well.
Game Rewind: Tampa Bay Buccaneers