Top five Niners questions heading into training camp

Top five questions as we head into training camp, starting Monday:

  1. Will Dashon Goldson hold out? He wanted a multi-year extension from the Niners, but the July 16 deadline passed and the Niners didn’t give him one. All he can do now is sign the one-year franchise tender. The same situation happened to former Niners nose tackle Aubrayo Franklin two seasons ago. Franklin wanted an extension and didn’t get one, so he decided to sit out training camp and wait to sign the franchise tag in September. Franklin had a down season, signed a one-year contract with the Saints last offseason, and then a one-year contract with the Chargers this offseason. He has yet to receive a multi-year contract from an NFL team. Can Dashon Goldson afford to go down Aubrayo’s path? Probably not. He’s in a contract year, and he has to face very good quarterbacks to start the season, including Aaron Rodgers in the first game. If he has a rough start to the season, it’s unlikely he’d get a multi-year extension next offseason. On the other hand, the Niners absolutely need Goldson. They gave up three receiving touchdowns against the Cowboys last season when Goldson was hurt. C.J. Spillman is his backup this season, and Spillman has only started one game in his professional career – not at free safety, but at strong safety, back in 2009 for the San Diego Chargers.
  2. Who will be the third down running back – Kendall Hunter or LaMichael James? At first I thought James would win this job because the team spent a second round pick on him this offseason (Hunter was a fourth round pick last year). But Hunter has the lead in this competition and here’s why: He’s already a surprisingly good blocker – he only gave up one sack on a blown block last season – he’s a good running back when he doesn’t have to run up the middle, and he has more experience catching passes at this point than James does. So, it’s Hunter’s job to lose.
  3. How will Alex Boone fare at right guard? Boone has never played the position before – he’s a tackle who is switching positions. How will he play now that there are full-contact practices? Is he a powerful run blocker? Can he hold his ground as a pass protector?
  4. Who will be the short yardage running back – Brandon Jacobs or Anthony Dixon? This seems like Jacobs’ job to lose. Jacobs has rushed for 16 touchdowns the past two seasons, while Dixon has only rushed for four. But Jacobs is 30, and Dixon’s turning 25 in September. If Dixon can match Jacobs performance in training camp and preseason, the Niners could choose to keep the younger player.
  5. How will Randy Moss hold up to the grind? He looked terrific in non-contact OTAs, but how will the 35-year-old wide receiver handle the daily hitting in training camp? The Niners offense needs Randy Moss next season. They can’t afford to lose him like they lost Braylon Edwards early last season.

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