Rookie safety Eric Reid has leaped into the 49ers' plans for 2013, based on his play in practice and his first exhibition game. (Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images)
In 2012, the 49ers’ draft class made a minimal contribution.
After one exhibition game, it’s already apparent that the Class of ’13 likely will play a much bigger role.
Safety Eric Reid, in particular, showed in his professional debut that he could be an impact player.
Reid didn’t start Thursday night’s 10-6 loss to the Denver Broncos at Candlestick Park – veteran Craig Dahl played the opening minutes – but Reid got the majority of playing time and showed the hitting prowess he exhibited as a collegiate star at LSU.
The 49ers’ first-round draft choice made six tackles in the game, including a pair of big-time hits. His first was on Broncos tight end Virgil Green after Green had made a reception. Later, Reid knocked wideout Kemonte’ Bateman completely off his feet.
“We’re football players, so it was exciting to hit somebody else – and to really hit somebody else,” Reid told Andrew Pentis of 49ers.com after the game. “That’s my favorite part. … I like contact. Coach (Vic Fangio) was saying that he is looking for a physical safety. That’s something that I think I can bring to the scene.”
The hit on Green was especially memorable. Reid raced forward from his free safety spot to deliver a crushing hit that had teammates giving him a hard time about it on the sidelines.
“Ahmad (Brooks) told me I had to get in the weight room. I should have hit him harder,” Reid told reporters, laughing. “But I thought it was a good, safe, legal hit.”
Reid told the media he feels very comfortable with the playbook and his assignments now, and that showed in his 49ers debut.
And head coach Jim Harbaugh noticed.
“I thought he’s somebody to highlight,” Harbaugh said when asked about Reid.
Though Reid was listed behind Dahl on the initial depth chart, released last week, it’s possible that the rookie – based on how he played Thursday night – could soon move up. He’ll get his next opportunity on Friday, Aug. 16, when San Francisco travels to Kansas City to play the Chiefs.
For now, Reid is just happy to be off and running in the NFL.
“I got my feet wet a little bit,” Reid told Pentis. “It’s been my dream since I was a kid to be in the NFL. And to be out here with these guys on such a great team, it’s a blessing.”