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Niners' secondary in good shape for rough road ahead

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Dan Arkush
Executive editor

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Posted April 26, 2012 @ 1:43 p.m. ET
By Dan Arkush

A year ago at this time, the 49ers would have been a lot more concerned about the prospect of their secondary being forced to face the previous season’s five most prolific passers.

But it’s safe to say they couldn’t feel better early this offseason about what appears to be a greatly improved unit that figures to be more than up to the challenge of facing, in order, Aaron Rodgers (Week One), Matthew Stafford (Week Two), Eli Manning (Week Six), Drew Brees (Week 12) and Tom Brady (Week 15) during the 2012 campaign.

Start with the secondary’s high-profile Pro Bowlers and co-leaders in interceptions (six) — LCB Carlos Rogers, who was more than happy in mid-March to sign a new four-deal worth up to $31.3 million, and FS Dashon Goldson, the team’s designated franchise player to the tune of $6.2 million.

“At this stage of his career, Rogers is getting by in what he learns in the film room,” said one daily team observer of the former Redskin who has reinvented himself in the Bay Area. “He’s a real thinker, very smart. He’s got a book on most of the receivers he faces, and he just loves it here, which I think is a big reason he has played so well.”

We hear Goldson would like nothing more than to sign a new long-term deal like Rogers did.

“But I wouldn’t be surprised if they let him just play out the (franchise) tender,” the observer said. “He hasn’t really put together two strong back-to-back seasons, and I think they’d like to see him do that before committing long term."

Goldson’s hopes of stringing together two good seasons in a row are bolstered by fellow S Donte Whitner, another excellent free-agent addition last offseason who is considered a “perfect complement” to the emotional Goldson.

“He’s very good at getting everybody set up properly,” the observer said of Whitner. “And you kind of forget just how good a player he is.”

That certainly appears to be the case with starting RCB Tarell Brown, who many close to the team believe has quietly become a better corner than Rogers.

“He’s fast and very athletic, with great hands and body control,” the observer said of Brown. “He just missed making some amazing interceptions, and he’s also become a model citizen off the field who could eventually be a team leader.”

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