The 49ers have made some questionable personnel moves in recent seasons, but drafting safety Eric Reid in the first round of the 2013 NFL draft wasn’t one of them.
As Reid prepares for his fourth 49ers training camp – veterans are due to report July 30 – the former LSU standout has become a terrific foundation piece in the secondary, forming a solid duo with Antoine Bethea.
Reid, 24, was selected to the Pro Bowl as a rookie and has been a durable, steady presence since he was named a starter in his first year.
He’s started 47 of 48 possible games, has seven interceptions, a forced fumble and two fumble recoveries while knocking away 26 passes. He’s also been a sure tackler and played strong against the run, getting in on 199 tackles.
The 49ers, in fact, already have exercised their fifth-year option on his first contract, ensuring Reid will be with the Niners through the 2017 season.
It’s possible, too, that Reid could be ready to take his game to a new level in 2016. He recently told reporters that he feels the new defensive scheme installed by coordinator Jim O’Neil is his favorite of the three he’s been a part of since joining the 49ers, saying the scheme “just makes sense” and is less reactive than the system the team played in 2015.
New defensive backs coach Jeff Hafley said he’s looking for ways to allow Reid to make a bigger impact this season.
“It’s my job to put him in a position to make plays," Hafley told a writer for the team’s website recently. “Whether it’s telling him to align a certain way or what to look at, I want him to find things very clearly so when he goes out there, he’s just playing ball.
“I don’t want him to think. He’s so athletic and he’s so bright, he sees things well. If you see a little, you see a lot. If you see a lot, you see a little. He needs to understand that: look at this, react to it and go play ball. I’m not going to overcoach that. We’ve got to let our players make plays.”
For his part, Reid says he’s not happy with the way he or his team played in 2015. He’d like to use that disappointment as a springboard to better things.
“I try to take every moment, whether it’s successful or disappointing, and learn from it,” Reid said this offseason. “There was a lot to learn from last year. I tried to reflect on how I played and tried to find those plays where I feel like I could have helped the team more. Then you have to leave the past in the past. It’s over with and I’m excited for the fresh start.”