NFL draft: 49ers trade up to select LSU safety Reid
Published: Thursday, April 25, 2013 at 3:00 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, April 25, 2013 at 10:50 p.m.
SANTA CLARA — The San Francisco 49ers wasted no time drafting a replacement for All Pro free safety Dashon Goldson, who signed a five-year, $41.25 million contract with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers this offseason. The 49ers traded their first round pick — No. 31 overall — and their first third-round pick — No. 74 — to the Dallas Cowboys for the 18th pick, and drafted LSU free safety, Eric Reid.
Resume: Free safety, LSU
Vitals: 6-foot-1, 213 pounds
Why him? The 49ers lost their All Pro free safety, Dashon Goldson, in free agency because he signed a five-year, $41.25 million contract with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. So the 49ers traded up with the Dallas Cowboys from the 31st pick to the 18th pick to make sure they acquired his replacement. Reid probably will start from Day 1, although head coach Jim Harbaugh says he has to compete for the starting job. His competition is Craig Dahl, who was the St. Louis' Rams free safety last season. He was the 10th-worst safety in the NFL according to Pro Football Focus.
A key stat: Reid was an ESPN first-team All American and an AP second-team All American. His dad, Eric Reid Sr., was the 1987 NCAA champion in the 110-meter hurdles.
“It's something I was visiting with (Cowboys' COO) Stephen Jones about the last couple of days,” 49ers' general manager Trent Baalke said Thursday evening. “We had worked out the details this morning.”
Reid (6-1, 213 pounds) is almost the exact size as Goldson, and Reid is faster and more explosive — he ran a 4.49 40-yard dash and jumped a 40.5-inch vertical leap at the combine. Those are great athletic numbers for a safety.
He had 167 tackles over the past two seasons at LSU. He also intercepted six passes and broke up 11 passes over his three-year collegiate career. He has the potential to become a better player than Goldson, and Goldson is one of the best free safeties in the NFL.
NFL.com gives Reid a grade of 82.5. Under strengths, it lists his ability to hit receivers running across the middle of the field, his ability to run step-for-step with tight ends and his ability to jump high and break up passes. Under weakness, it lists over-aggressiveness in pass coverage.
“I think I'm a very cerebral player,” Reid told Bay Area reporters on a conference call Thursday evening. “I pride myself on knowing the defense. I pride myself on being able to get the guys on the team lined up, being a great teammate and also doing my job.”
He also prides himself on hitting: “We play with sincere contact at LSU, so it's definitely something I have on my resume as a football player.”
Here's how Jim Harbaugh broke down Reid on Thursday evening: “He can play down in the box. He has great contact courage. He likes to get from Point A to Point B and go hit somebody. He's an effective tackler and he's a hard-hitting tackler, but he also plays the deep part of the field extremely well. He can track the football, has the speed to go and be a range safety, cover ground. He's got long arms, big wingspan, gets guys down when he tackles but also can make plays on the ball when it's thrown up in there air.”
Reid fills the most obvious need on the 49ers roster — free safety. That is the only position at which the 49ers are not returning a starter. Still, the 49ers chose to pick Reid over other good players they could have used — cornerbacks Xavier Rhodes from Florida State and Desmond Trufant from Washington, and defensive linemen Datone Jones from UCLA and Sharrif Floyd from Florida. All four players would have been good picks for the 49ers. The fact that the 49ers passed on all of them shows how much the 49ers coveted the free safety from LSU.
Reid never traveled to Santa Clara to meet with the 49ers. “The coaches and the agents set up the visits, so it just wasn't on my schedule,” said Reid.
He met Harbaugh at the combine. “I joked with coach Harbaugh,” said Reid. “He recruited me when I was coming out of high school. He poked fun at me for not going to Stanford.”
Why didn't he go to Stanford? “I was born and raised in Louisiana. I still bleed purple and gold. It was a no-brainer for me to go to LSU.” Still, Harbaugh recruited him hard.
“He was actually the only school that recruited me as hard as LSU did. All the other schools pretty much gave up knowing I was an in-state guy. It says a lot about how much he wanted me to go to Stanford, and I appreciated it.”
So, Harbaugh finally got his guy. The 49ers have two picks in the second round — Nos. 34 and 61 — and one in the third round — No. 93. With 11 more picks, the 49ers can make selections to address needs like cornerback, defensive line and wide receiver.