SANTA CLARA Vic Fangio on Thursday gave the kind of endorsement sports agents love to read when the 49ers defensive coordinator was asked to compare Dashon Goldson with one of the best safeties of the last decade, Baltimore's Ed Reed.
Fangio was in a good position to make the comparison. He was an assistant with the Ravens from 2006-09 before joining the 49ers last season.
"Ed's got tremendous instincts and a great feel for the ball, tremendous ball skills," Fangio said. "And Ed's one of the best safeties in this era the last 10, 15 years, for sure. But Dashon, I think, is right up there with him."
Both players made the Pro Bowl last season, Goldson's first and Reed's seventh. And both have been looking for new contracts in recent years. Reed, 34, who has 60 interceptions since 2002, is in the final year of his deal.
Goldson, meanwhile, was given the franchise tag last year ($6.2 million), meaning he's scheduled for free agency again in March. The 49ers could franchise him again, but it would have to be at 120 percent of his current salary, or $7.45 million.
Goldson, 28, tested free agency in 2011 and found no takers, at least not for the amount he was seeking. He switched agents in February and again couldn't work out a long-term deal with the 49ers.
Goldson joined the 49ers after training camp began in 2011, and he didn't start his first game until Week 3. Fangio said the safety has been making incremental progress since.
Singling out anyone from the 49ers' No. 2-ranked defense is difficult, but Goldson who plays the pass and run equally well has shined in a group that ranks No. 2 against the pass and No. 5 against the run.
"I don't know if I'd say significant," Fangio said when asked about Goldson's progress. "But he's made little strides in all areas. And like I said before, little strides in a lot of areas equals a big difference."
Injuries Running back Frank Gore is on the 49ers' injury report this week, not because of the bruised ribs suffered against Seattle on Oct. 18 but because of a hand injury.
Gore said he took a helmet to the hand against the Cardinals on Oct. 29. He didn't have a wrap on the hand and, along with every other 49er, practiced in full Wednesday and Thursday.
Michael Crabtree (illness) and Patrick Willis (shoulder) were added to the report Thursday. Both practiced in full.