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After drafting LSU safety Eric Reid, Jim Harbaugh told Bay Area Sports Guy that Reid was the 49ers' "top-rated safety."
He also told Comcast SportsNet Bay Area's Mindi Bach that Reid could be a starter right away.
Although Harbaugh likes to play games with the media, it's hard not believe that both of these statements are true.
Reid reminds me of Dashon Goldson. He's a punishing hitter who can create turnovers. He also doesn't have the elite ball-hawking skills of the best free safeties in the NFL.
At worst, Reid could turn into Taylor Mays (49ers second-round pick in 2010). I know, I know, that's a brutal insult in San Francisco, but the similarities are everywhere.
Both led top-rated defenses two years before they declared for the draft; both then were perceived to play worse in the year before they entered the draft. Both were criticized for over-agressiveness, which led to some missed tackles. Both have jaw-dropping measurables, but neither had jaw-dropping college stats.
I believe Reid will be a better pro than Mays, however. He's entering a much better situation—the 49ers have better players and coaches—and he's already shown he can play his best on the biggest of stages.
Reid should be a starting safety on the Niners for the next decade or so, but his rookie year will go a long way in showing us whether he'll be the strong or free safety of the future.
He's not as fluid as, say, Ed Reed, and that could push him into the strong safety spot down the road. Expect Reid to be a turnover-creating machine, similar to Roy Williams in his prime.
Career outlook: Multiple Pro Bowl selections