49ers sign safety Craig Dahl to 3-year deal
"They told me that there was an opportunity to play in the void at the safety position in the secondary," said Craig Dahl. "I'm hoping to come in here and mesh well with the secondary and fill that void."
San Francisco 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh had previously listed re-signing Dashon Goldson, who played on a $6.2 million franchise tag last season, as top a priority. However, Dashon Goldson signed onto a five-year, $41.25 million deal with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, following the start of new league year.
So, the San Francisco 49ers invested their hopes in Craig Dahl, signing him to a three-year contract worth $5 million.
“We are pleased to announce the signing of Craig,” said San Francisco 49ers general manager Trent Baalke. “He is an experienced veteran with excellent intangibles, who has working knowledge of the NFC West.”
“The mentality of the division has changed,” added Craig Dahl, “teams are a lot more aggressive on defense and it's turning out a lot better football teams than it has in the past."
Craig Dahl had been an on-and-off starter for the St. Louis Rams, starting 40 of 61 games over the past four seasons. However, he only missed three games during that stretch. Craig Dahl was a backup in 2009 and 2011. He started majority of the St. Louis Rams’ games as free safety in 2010 and all 16-games in 2012, including two against the San Francisco 49ers. The San Francisco 49ers are hoping that Craig Dahl’s familiarity with the NFC West offenses will help 49ers defense which finished fourth in the league, finishing last season on a Super Bowl run where they lost to the Baltimore Ravens.
“It's a program I'm really familiar with, players and coaches I'm familiar with how they operate and the basis of what their team fundamentals are,” Craig Dahl said of his joining the San Francisco 49ers. “I don't think I'll have a problem getting to know the guys and working hard ... and gaining their trust and confidence in my ability."
The San Francisco 49ers already have starter Donte Whitner, and other safeties in C.J. Spillman, Trent Richardson, as well as 2012 draft sixth-round pick and practice squad member Michael Thomas on the roster. But the San Francisco 49ers could still draft a safety in 2012 since they hold at least five pick in first three rounds.
"Whether I'm lined up out there from day one, it's always going to be a competition to keep your job once you're the starter," said Craig Dahl. "I'm grateful for the opportunity I was given, and I hope to be that guy."
Craig Dahl could also provide value on the San Francisco 49ers special teams, where he’s amassed 38 tackles over the past four seasons.
Over his entire career, which started off as an undrafted free agent safety with the New York Giants in 2007, Craig Dahl has totaled 321 tackles, three sacks and four interceptions.