Let's consider how both men are approaching the 2011 season to better understand why Goldson and the 49ers haven't secured a long-term contract extension.
GoldsonMore than a year ago, Goldson fired his agent, hired Drew Rosenhaus and set out to secure the fattest contract he could get. He watched another safety and Rosenhaus client, Antrel Rolle, sign a five-year, $37 million deal with the New York Giants. At the time, Goldson said he saw Rosenhaus as a "shark" who would "smell blood" and leverage the best deal.
"Obviously, they are real patient about it and careful about who they give the money to," Goldson said last offseason, "but I don't see myself not getting a deal done here. I know they respect me and like what I'm doing here and I want to be here, so I'm sure something will work out. I don't think they have a problem paying athletes."
If the 49ers were careful about who they targeted for long-term agreements previously, imagine the level of care as the team breaks in a new coaching staff.
Goldson and Harbaugh have no history together. The 49ers' pass defense was among the worst in the NFL last season. Goldson did not take a big step forward in his development. Meanwhile, the lockout has prevented Harbaugh from getting a better feel for players. Like any new coach, he wants players to prove it to him. He wants to establish a standard, see who meets that standard and then reward players accordingly.
The 49ers have tried to protect themselves. They signed Madieu Williams for experienced depth at safety. They re-signed Ray McDonald to a deal that made him a likely starter at defensive end. They appear prepared to have Isaac Sopoaga play nose tackle.
Another reason to question old assumptions: It's not yet clear what the 49ers' new coaching staff values in its defensive personnel. The new staff might view differently the traits that made Goldson, Franklin or anyone else carry a certain level of value.
The timing does not appear right for Goldson or Franklin to secure the types of deals they wanted, particularly if the market isn't supportive. Shorter-term deals might make more sense for them under the circumstances.