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SAN FRANCISCO, CA - DECEMBER 19: Dashon Goldson #38 of the San Francisco 49ers tackles Rashard Mendenhall #34 of the Pittsburgh Steelers at Candlestick Park on December 19, 2011 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

SANTA CLARA -- Safety Dashon Goldson tends to bring a flair for the dramatic when the 49ers face the Arizona Cardinals, and that could happen again Monday night at the University of Phoenix Stadium.

"He's had success against us, so I have a lot of respect for him as a player and I'm very aware of how he plays," Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt said Wednesday on a conference call with Bay Area media.

Goldson's aggressive nature showed in both meetings last season, from getting ejected for a retaliatory punch in the 49ers' home win to giving up a 46-yard touchdown to Larry Fitzgerald in a Dec. 11 road loss.

Goldson's style, however, also produced an interception in each game, thus reinforcing his first Pro Bowl berth. To him, there is no such thing as being overaggressive.

"I can't think like that when I'm out there," Goldson said. "If I see something, I'll attack it. If the ball's in the air, and me and (Fitzgerald) are going after it, I've got to go get it."

In last season's 21-19 loss at Arizona, Goldson and Fitzgerald jumped side by side for John Skelton's pass at the 49ers' 21-yard line. Fitzgerald snagged the ball and raced 46 yards for a touchdown to spur the Cardinals' comeback from a 19-7 deficit.

"We had Larry pretty much contained, then we let things slip and he made some good plays on the ball," Goldson remembered of Fitzgerald's seven-catch, 149-yard effort.


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As a free safety on the league's No. 1 pass defense, Goldson's focus won't be solely on Fitzgerald, not when the secondary also will be invaded by Andre Roberts, Early Doucet and Michael Floyd. Roberts and Doucet each scored in that Dec. 11 game, too.

"He's got a lot of range, very smart, understands what teams are trying to do," Whisenhunt said of Goldson.

The Cardinals have lost three in a row after starting the season 4-0. Skelton and Kevin Kolb have taken turns getting clobbered behind a patchwork line, and Kolb's injured ribs probably will press Skelton back into the lineup Monday.

"He gives them a better chance to win, in my eye," Goldson said of Skelton. "He closed out well against us last year, and you've got to give him his props on that."

Goldson deserves acclaim, too. He recorded his team-high second interception of the season in Thursday night's 13-6 win over the Seattle Seahawks, and his eight interceptions since the start of last season are tied for second-most in the NFL.

As the 49ers' "franchise" player this past offseason, Goldson is making $6.2 million and can't sign a multiyear contract until after the season ends.

His contribution in preventing deep passes, plus his efforts on run defense and punt coverage Thursday, earned him a game ball from coach Jim Harbaugh. Goldson also made a fierce stop on running back Marshawn Lynch that Harbaugh called "one of the best front-up tackles I've ever seen."

Goldson drew a taunting penalty after that tackle, and he chuckled upon hearing how Harbaugh later tried to spin that penalty to the media: that Goldson merely was talking to teammate Justin Smith, who assisted on the tackle.

"Nah, I was super fired up," Goldson said. "Me and Marshawn go back a while. Every time we play each other, we get into it."

Same goes for Goldson and the Cardinals.

  • Punter Andy Lee earned NFC special teams player of the week honors. He averaged 44.6 net yards on five punts, four of which were downed inside the Seahawks' 20-yard line.

  • The NFL Network's "Eddie DeBartolo: A Football Life" special debuted Wednesday night and will be replayed Thursday at noon and Saturday at 7 p.m. and 10 p.m. DeBartolo, the 49ers' owner from 1977-2000, is nominated for the next Pro Football Hall of Fame class that will be unveiled Feb. 2.

  • Harbaugh, on KNBR 680, said of Thursday's win: "It was the best game I think I've been involved in in a decade, where both teams played their guts out. It was a hard-hitting slugfest."

  • Former Facebook executive Cipora Herman is the 49ers' new chief financial officer. Herman previously worked at Facebook and Yahoo with Gideon Yu, now the 49ers' president and minority owner.

    Former CFO Larry MacNeil will serve as executive vice president of development and devote time to the stadium project.

    For more on the 49ers, see Cam Inman's Hot Read blog at blogs.mercurynews.com/49ers. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/CamInman.