SANTA CLARA -- Dashon Goldson didn't draw the 49ers' franchise tag by Monday's deadline, and the All-Pro safety is thrilled at the prospect of becoming an unrestricted free agent March 12.
"Thank you jesus. Now fly like a bird #hawk," Goldson posted on his Twitter account, @thehawk38.
Goldson would have made $7.45 million next season if the 49ers franchised him for a second straight year. Known more for his hard hits than coverage skills, Goldson can still re-sign with the 49ers, but he also can sign elsewhere once free agency begins March 12.
"I'm very thankful I didn't get the franchise tag again but still hopeful this means something long term with the San Francisco 49ers!" Goldson tweeted in a follow-up post.
Jed York, the 49ers' CEO, encouraged Goldson's return by tweeting him: "hope we can get something done."
The reigning NFC champions didn't assign the franchise tag to any of their other pending free agents, including tight end Delanie Walker.
Besides Goldson, the only other starters scheduled to hit free agency are wide receiver Randy Moss and nose tackle Isaac Sopoaga. Moss foreshadowed his exit with a Saturday farewell note on Twitter. Sopoaga's status is uncertain, though he has continued to work out at the 49ers' facility over the past month.
Goldson is seeking a contract worth $8 million per season, a league official told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. He played last season for $6.2 million under the franchise tag.
In his only other foray into free agency, Goldson drew a one-year, $2 million offer from the New England Patriots in 2011 before returning to the 49ers, who drafted him in the fourth round out of Washington in 2007.
Goldson totaled just three interceptions last season, the same number of fines he accrued for illegal hits. But he also received AP All-Pro first-team honors and his second straight Pro Bowl invitation.
Both Goldson and coach Jim Harbaugh had expressed hope that a long-term contract would be worked out by the 49ers front office. General manager Trent Baalke stressed last month, however, that the 49ers would avoid overpaying for players.
Other key 49ers slated to hit unrestricted free agency are defensive lineman Ricky Jean Francois, return specialist Ted Ginn Jr., guard Leonard Davis and linebackers Larry Grant, Tavares Gooden and Clark Haggans. Restricted free agents are cornerback Tramaine Brock and safety Darcel McBath.
Raiders opt against franchise tagging any players. page 2