Dashon Goldson dropped by San Francisco team headquarters a few weeks back and nobody thought it too strange, even now that he plays for the Buccaneers and his former 49ers travel to Tampa Bay this weekend.
The veteran safety was serving a one-game suspension at the time and in the Bay Area to see his doctor and chiropractor for a body tuneup before returning to the field following the Week 12 penalty for a helmet-to-helmet hit.
"I've never seen that before, a player stopping by like that. But, it was cool, it was natural," coach Jim Harbaugh said Wednesday. "People were glad to see him and he was glad to see guys. Had a chance to see him, give him a hug and talk for a little bit. So, it wasn't a big deal."
Despite his fresh start and new big-money contract, Goldson still has plenty of close connections with the 49ers.
"Being there, I understand their personnel and who I'm dealing with here on Sunday," Goldson said.
He has gone from winning on a one-year deal with San Francisco to that multiyear commitment he long coveted, across the country with the losing Buccaneers.
A tough tradeoff at times, indeed. Yet the veteran safety believes the Bucs can build their young team into a contender much the way the 49ers have recently, capped by last season's return to the Super Bowl for the first time in 18 years.
When the 49ers (9-4) take the field in Tampa on Sunday, they will see that familiar face and hard-hitting defender in the Bucs secondary. Goldson is determined to do his best to disrupt Colin Kaepernick, Vernon Davis, Anquan Boldin and Michael Crabtree in the passing game.
"Of course, I look forward to every Sunday. I'm not looking at it like that," he said. "I'm sure my emotions will be flying come Sunday. Right now I'm just trying to get the game plan down and focus on what I have to do."
Goldson landed a $41.25 million, five-year contract with the Bucs during free agency last March.
After losing the Super Bowl 34-31 to Baltimore, Harbaugh announced he would make it a priority to re-sign Goldson — and the defender thought he more than deserved to play on a lengthy contract.
"He has been a great addition not only from a schematic standpoint, but his leadership and attitude," Bucs coach Greg Schiano said. "All those things are a great addition. He's a big part of our defense."
The 29-year-old Goldson played on one-year contracts the past two seasons, including the 2012 franchise tag of $6.2 million, and made it clear he was "not for that" again. He had 69 tackles, three interceptions and a forced fumble last year.
Many others on the San Francisco defense have received long-term deals, and the 49ers selected Eric Reid in the first round of this year's draft to replace Goldson and he has made an immediate impact as a hard hitter like Goldson, with three interceptions and 61 tackles while dealing with a pair of concussions.
No hard feelings on Goldson's part.
"He's really good, a raw talent," Goldson said. "They're going to be good for years to come. He's got to stay healthy."
Goldson's former teammates are cheering him from afar — aside from this Sunday, that is — and thrilled he landed that large contract at last.
"Dashon and I, we came in together," linebacker Patrick Willis said. "We kind of grew in this league together, so he'll always be close to me and dear to me as a teammate. I know him like a brother. But we're very fortunate to have Eric and all the things he's brought to this team."
When Goldson stopped by last month, he only felt slightly out of place.
"I know somebody made a remark that was kind of absurd. Whatever. ... He was asking, I don't remember who it was, 'What you doing, spying on us?'" Goldson said. "I thought that was ridiculous. It was coming from a room I walked in."
Kaepernick certainly knows what's coming with Goldson on the other side.
"Dashon's a great player, does a lot of great things, has a lot of range on the back end," Kaepernick said. "One of my good friends."
Notes: LG Mike Iupati returned to practice as Harbaugh expected, though his status is still unclear for Sunday. He has missed the past three games with a sprained left knee. ... Kaepernick traded jerseys with former teammate and current Seahawks WR Ricardo Lockette on Sunday. "First time," Kaepernick said. "He's a good friend. Wanted to keep that as memento."
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