Eric Reid to 49ers: How Does the FS Fit with San Francisco?

Dylan DeSimone@@DeSimone80Correspondent IApril 25, 2013

NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 25:  Eric Reid (C) of the LSU Tigers holds his daughter Leilani as they stand with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell as they hold up a jersey on stage after Reid was picked #18 overall by the San Francisco 49ers in the first round of the 2013 NFL Draft at Radio City Music Hall on April 25, 2013 in New York City.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
Al Bello/Getty Images

On Day 1 of the 2013 NFL draft, there were few things as sure as the San Francisco 49ers trading up.

After a run on offensive linemen and pass-rushers early on, and the first safety being taken off the board in Kenny Vaccaro, the 49ers decided to pounce. GM Trent Baalke sent the No. 31 and 74 overall picks to Dallas to move up to the No. 18 slot.

In the first round of the 2013 draft, the 49ers targeted Eric Reid. 

Throughout the draft process, I had been very critical of the three-year man from LSU, citing why he is not a good fit for the San Francisco 49ers. The majority of the argument leaned on his limitations in coverage, which I believe exist.

Admittedly, the difficult thing to gauge transitioning to the next level is heart and how bad a player wants it. Having no personal interactions with Reid, it’s difficult to gauge what drives him and how hot that fire burns.

But most assuredly, Jim Harbaugh, Trent Baalke and the 49ers had time to tap into his mindset. 


Upside (+) 

When Dashon Goldson turned himself into Greg Schiano for the $41.25 million bounty the Tampa Bay coach had on him, it left a gaping hole on the 49ers roster at free safety.

In large part, the physical aspect that Goldson brought on the back end of the San Francisco defense. He was a punishing tackler, and more often than not, it caused receivers to hesitate when drifting into the secondary.

The highlight of Reid’s game is his missile-like attacking ability. 

Coming from LSU, it is easy to tell that Reid gets geared up for the physical side of the game. From Week 1, this is a player that could be laying tone-setting hits that make ESPN’s ever-popular top 10. 

From a fundamental standpoint, Reid should have no trouble acclimating to the way San Francisco does things. It is arguably the hardest hitting defense in pro football, and he is only going to add to that. 

And though it does not show up on the stat sheet, the 49ers rely greatly on their ability to intimidate their opponents. Reid’s presence is going to make sure there is no drop-off in that respect, easing the transition from Goldson.

Rob Rang of CBS Sports was able to draw a comparison from Reid to a current NFL player.

Compares To: LaRon Landry, FS, New York Jets -- Reid signed with LSU patterning his game after the former Tigers' standout and it shows in his physique and bone-jarring hits. Of concern to scouts is the fact that Reid, like Landry, is a bit stiff and not as fast on the field in deep coverage as he may test during workouts. 


Downside (-)

According to Matt Miller of Bleacher Report, this former Tiger was the No. 4-rated free safety available in the draft (No. 56 overall). However, the 49ers made him the second safety selected in 2013 at No. 18 overall.

Miller also labeled Reid with the “Biggest Bust” potential.

The reason for this is because Reid has questions regarding his coverage ability. Given the fact that his primary purpose is to defend the pass, this is a significant red flag to have on a first-round safety.

For the most, Reid (6’1”, 213 lbs.) was able to impress scouts with his size and physical approach on game day. In person he is an impressive specimen, certainly looking the part of a prototypical NFL safety.

However, with his long lean frame, Reid struggles with fluidity in his hips. This causes him to look stiff in coverage and hampers his ability to both stay with the receiver and locate the ball in the air.

The fear with the Reid is that the 49ers are risking the integrity of their defense by having another strong safety type, rather than a complementary defensive back that excels in coverage.



Final Thoughts

The 49ers have a very filled-out defensive unit that does very well sharing the responsibility of the field. 

With Eric Reid’s strengths and weaknesses, the thought process has to be that the 49ers have a plan for him and they won’t give him more than he can handle. Reid is not a true center fielder, so as a defense, it would be wise to have him operate within a concentrated area.

Moreover, this is only Day 1. 

The 49ers may very well select another safety that isn’t a banger like Reid. There are more fluid hawking defensive backs projected in the later rounds, like Phillip Thomas (Fresno State), Baccari Rambo (Georgia) and David Amerson (North Carolina State).

In the long term, the 49ers may plug Eric Reid in as Donte Whitner’s eventual successor at strong safety. This would be an ideal fit for the long haul while the Niners locate a rangier DB with hawking ability in the draft. 

Dylan DeSimone is the San Francisco 49ers' lead columnist for Bleacher Report. A former NFL journalist and fantasy football writer for SB Nation, Niners Nation and SB Nation Bay Area, Dylan now writes for B/R.

To talk football with Dylan, follow him on Twitter @DeSimone80 


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