Capitals

49ers S Goldson earning new label for hard hits

201212162207796743177-p2.jpeg

49ers S Goldson earning new label for hard hits

SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) Dashon Goldson has a stack of manila envelopes in his locker, filing away the paperwork 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 Sunday night on 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 shots on receivers, said the fines still won't change the way he plays when the 49ers (10-3-1) face the Seahawks (9-5) on Sunday night in Seattle 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 Rams 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 Raiders 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.''

NOTES: DT Justin Smith did not practice for the second straight day with an elbow injury. Coach Jim Harbaugh had said on his radio show Tuesday that Smith will likely play but sounded unsure Wednesday. Neither spoke to reporters Thursday.

---

Online:http://pro32.ap.org/poll andhttp://twitter.com/AP-NFL

Quick Links

10 changes that would make the NHL better

usatsi_10788321.jpg
USA TODAY Sports

10 changes that would make the NHL better

Hockey is one of the most incredible, compelling sports in the world. As fun as it is to watch on TV, it is even more compelling in person and fans in North America are treated to the best hockey in the world as played in the NHL.

But the NHL's not perfect.

SEE THE 10 CHANGES THAT WOULD MAKE THE NHL BETTER HERE

Just like every sports league, the NHL is always adjusting and making changes to the game in order to improve it through things like rule changes, expansion, playoff formats, etc.

No sport is perfect and hockey is not without its flaws, but there are a number of clear changes that could be made that would improve both the game and the league.

 SEE THE 10 CHANGES THAT WOULD MAKE THE NHL BETTER HERE

Quick Links

Nats put Scherzer-Strasburg scuffle aside to split Braves series

stephen-strasburg-nationals.jpg
USA TODAY Sports

Nats put Scherzer-Strasburg scuffle aside to split Braves series

Bryce Harper homered, Max Scherzer struck out seven in six innings and the Washington Nationals beat the Atlanta Braves 6-2 on Sunday.

Anthony Rendon also had two hits and drove in two runs for Washington, extending his hitting streak to 10 games and helping the Nationals earn a split of the series after Saturday's game was rained out. Adam Eaton and Juan Soto each had three hits.

Two days after a heated exchange with teammate Stephen Strasburg during Friday's 8-5 loss, Scherzer (13-5) allowed two runs and eight hits in his third straight win. The three-time Cy Young Award winner has pitched six or more innings in his last 19 starts.

Kelvin Herrera got five outs for his first save with Washington.

The start of the game was delayed 1 hour, 55 minutes by rain, and another downpour stopped play for almost 100 minutes between the sixth and seventh innings.

Atlanta's Mike Foltynewicz (7-6) gave up four runs and nine hits over 5 2/3 innings.

Harper singled in Eaton to give Washington a 4-2 lead in the sixth. Matt Adams added another RBI single in the seventh, and Harper added a solo drive in the eighth for his 24th homer.

Scherzer was staked to an early 3-0 lead and then got some help from his defense.

Atlanta rookie Ronald Acuna Jr. led off the third with a drive off the wall in center, but he was thrown out by Harper while trying for a double. With a runner on first in the fifth, Freddie Freeman's blast to right was chased down by Eaton on the warning track.

Then in the seventh, Michael A. Taylor made a leaping catch at the wall in center to rob Dansby Swanson of extra bases with one runner on.

Washington got off to a fast start with three runs in the first. Rendon drove in Eaton and Harper with a triple down the right-field line, and then scored on Soto's groundout.

Swanson drove in Atlanta's runs with a groundout in the second and a single in the fourth.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Braves: All-Star 2B Ozzie Albies, who left Friday's game with right hamstring tightness, got the day off.

Nationals: RHP Sean Doolittle (left toe inflammation) experienced extended soreness after throwing off the mound Friday. An MRI Saturday revealed a stress reaction, comparable to a bone bruise, in the bridge of his foot and he is wearing a walking boot. ... RHP Koda Glover (right shoulder tendinitis) was reinstated from the 60-day DL and optioned to Triple-A Syracuse.

UP NEXT

Braves: LHP Sean Newcomb (8-5, 3.51 ERA) pitches the opener of a two-game series in Miami on Monday. He already has beaten the Marlins twice this season, allowing one run in 12 innings.

Nationals: LHP Gio Gonzalez (6-6, 3.72 ERA) opens a three-game series in Milwaukee on Monday night. He is 2-4 with a 4.93 ERA in nine career starts versus the Brewers.