SANTA CLARA -- "I'm not a dirty player," Dashon Goldson adamantly claimed Thursday.

The NFL, however, continues to disagree with the 49ers' hard-hitting safety.

Goldson drew his third fine this season after Sunday night's crushing blow to the New England Patriots' Aaron Hernandez. That $21,000 deduction came with a two-page letter informing Goldson of a newfound status: repeat offender.

That "caught me by surprise," Goldson said.

Aside from future repercussions that might result in a suspension, Goldson fears being labeled a notorious rules violator, especially when he believes his hits have been clean. But it's clear the league is determined to err on the side of deterrence in the wake of litigation with former players and increasing awareness about the long-term effects of concussions.

"With what they're trying to accomplish, this will raise a flag every time you go for a shot," Goldson said.

Mike Pereira, the NFL's former supervisor of officials and now a Fox analyst, believes Goldson deserved this latest fine. Pereira also denounced any concept of officials tracking a most-wanted list.

"The NFL never says to officials, 'Look at this guy,' " Pereira said in a phone interview.

According to a league spokesman, there is no "magic number" of fines that will lead to a suspension, and that discipline is evaluated on a case-by-case basis. Pereira confirmed that, adding the "severity of hits" could factor into discipline.


Advertisement

The letter he received from the NFL on Wednesday had company in Goldson's locker. He pulled out a stack of seven other manila envelopes he said contained paperwork for an estimated $70,000 in fines for uniform violations.

Goldson's bone-jarring hits have become his signature feature, even though his tackling skills and coverage ability also produced his first Pro Bowl invitation last season.

This season, Goldson had already been docked $7,875 on two separate occasions. The first was for taunting Seattle Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch in an Oct. 18 game and the second was for tackling St. Louis Rams quarterback Sam Bradford while he slid in a Dec. 2 game. He drew a $25,000 fine last season after getting ejected for fighting Arizona Cardinals receiver Early Doucet.

The 49ers' "franchise" player, Goldson is making $6.2 million this season.

Goldson will appeal his latest fine for a hit he "thought was clean" on Hernandez, which drew an unnecessary-roughness penalty during the third quarter of Sunday's 41-34 win at New England.

"There was helmet contact," Pereira said. "And a hit to the head or neck area is exactly what they're giving fines for, to get players to lower their target area. That is today's game, and they're not making it legal."

On the following play, Hernandez bobbled a short pass that instead got intercepted by Aldon Smith. Goldson credited his jarring hit for enhancing that turnover.

"Hits like that definitely give wide receivers the short hands," Goldson added.

Defensive coordinator Vic Fangio claimed the hit on Hernandez wasn't an intentional helmet-to-helmet shot but rather a clean strike to Hernandez's upper chest.

"If it looks bad, the league has told the officials to err on the side of caution," said Fangio, stating that officials are the ones who relayed him those guidelines.

"The league is going to do what they do to keep the game clean," Goldson added.

Fines have been a regular occurrence for the league's most notorious hitters. Goldson isn't striving to be known as the NFL's fiercest hitter, however.

"I just want to be known as a good football player," he said.

Seahawks coach Pete Carroll, whose team hosts the 49ers on Sunday night, said this week he "loves" the way Goldson and fellow safety Donte Whitner play.

"The safeties are ridiculous," Carroll said. "They're smart. They have great range. They knock the heck out of you if you give them half a chance. Goldson is an incredible tackler."

He's also $21,000 poorer because of it.

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.