Rookie free safety Eric Reid shed some light on how his teammates look at playing their biggest NFC West rivals during his press conference on Wednesday.
“I really didn’t know too much about it until I got here,” Reid said of the rivalry. “The guys tell me it’s like a playoff game.”
The former LSU Tiger may not know about the 49ers and Seahawks, but he knows a thing or two about rivalries. The SEC is arguably the toughest conference in college football, and his alma mater’s annual battle with Alabama is as big as an NCAA rivalry gets.
“I’m expecting a physical game, but that’s something I’m used to,” Reid said. “I come from a place where we have a lot of physical games.”
It’s quite a trial by fire for the rookie, who’s going from never playing a snap in the NFL to facing Aaron Rodgers in Week 1 and Russell Wilson in Seattle — the toughest road venue in the league — in Week 2. Reid said the loudest stadiums he played in during his college career were Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge and Bryant-Denny Stadium is Tuscaloosa.
He said he doesn’t think the pressure will get to him.
“I always would like to say that I step up. That’s something that I always try to do, no matter what the game is. Like I said after the game, I’m just doing my 1/11th. Just doing my job and trying to help the team get better.”
“I’m used to the ‘pressure’. I think pressure is what you make of it. To me, I just try to make it like any other game.”
And “any other game” is exactly how Reid’s coach, Jim Harbaugh is treating it.
“10 out of 10, your next game is your most important game of the season,” Harbaugh said. “I don’t know if you can make it 11 out of 10.”
But the stakes are truly higher for both teams this weekend. Only one team will exit with a 2-0 start to the season. An early NFC West lead is at stake. Harbaugh and Pete Carroll have a long-standing and well-documented rivalry. Richard Sherman and Doug Baldwin — former players of Harbaugh’s at Stanford — have had less-than-pleasant things to say about their former coach. And CenturyLink field will be full of fans trying to break a world record in decibel levels.
Harbaugh may have downplayed it, but the team certainly didn’t during practice. The media was sent back to the trailer after individual drills, but the music pumping from the field reached our workplace just fine.
Anquan Boldin: “Use your physicality.”
Anquan Boldin didn’t have a great game against the Seahawks when they faced one another in 2011. Seattle came back for a late upset victory over the Ravens and Boldin only managed two catches for 22 yards in defeat. Seattle has two of the more physical cornerbacks in the league, but Boldin believes you have to match physicality with physicality.
“They’ve got guys with good size,” Boldin said. “They’re a lot more physical than the normal defensive backs … You have to do what you do best. Some guys, smaller guys use your quickness. If you’re a bigger guy, use your physicality.”
Boldin didn’t take the bait when Michelle Beisner asked him what kind of player Richard Sherman is, but he did describe the corner as “patient.”
“He’s a good player, he’s a Pro Bowl cornerback. Very patient at the line of scrimmage, smart player,” Boldin said. “He doesn’t go for first moves all the time.”
Donte Whitner: “This really is a rivalry game for us.”
The biggest knock on Russell Wilson coming out of college was his height, so it was surprising to hear 49ers safety Donte Whitner say it was one of his most effective weapons.
“He’s small back there in the pocket. He can hide behind guys, you don’t really see where he’s going to throw the football,” Whitner said of Wilson. “[He's] very elusive, fast, competitive. A lot of times he’s back there just running around waiting for guys to get open.”
The question plaguing safeties who face the Seattle quarterback is this: How do you read a quarterback’s eyes when you can’t see them?
“You have to try to find him in between the linemen,” Whitner said. “But you have to see where he’s throwing the football. Through film study throughout the week, we know where he wants to go to the football.”
Whitner said he talked to Eric Reid about facing the Seahawks.
“It will be a different game than last week. Last week was more spread out, guys that really want to get yards after the catch. More of a finesse football team. This week is more of a hard-nosed, downhill football team … This is really a rivalry game for us.”
– Colin Kaepernick talked to the media in the locker room and the first question had to do with his latest appearance on a Madden commercial promoting an eyebrow shaving bet with Russell Wilson. In case you missed it, here it is:
The 49ers quarterback wouldn’t confirm the bet is actually happening, instead shucking off responsibility on his northwestern counterpart.
“I’m going to let you ask Russell about that one,” Kaepernick said. He said the bet wasn’t his idea, and said “I don’t know” when asked if it was Wilson’s.
– Jim Harbaugh said “there was definitely some improvement” on the 49ers’ 3rd down performance against the Packers. “We’re working very hard to continue that.”
– The coach was asked at length about the play clock issues that continued to plague the 49ers against the Packers.
“I think you guys have done a great job analyzing that,” Harbaugh told the media. He said they’re working hard to improve it. They’ll need those improvements in a hostile environment like CenturyLink, where the coach admitted the crowd noise makes communicating more difficult.
– Not surprisingly, Harbaugh gave no credence to the rumor the Seahawks pump in artificial crowd noise.
– Matt Maiocco asked Harbaugh which players would complement Vernon Davis and Anquan Boldin best in the passing game, which led to a pretty funny exchange:
The radio show Harbaugh was referring to was an appearance on 95.7 The Game. Looks like the coach doesn’t choose sides when it comes to Radio Wars.
– I asked Harbaugh if he knew about the eyebrow bet, and Harbaugh said, “I just heard about it on Matt Maiocco’s show.”
– With Nick Moody out seven games with a hand injury, the 49ers re-signed Kassim Osgood. Harbaugh said Osgood will give “major contributions on special teams.” Moody told the media his hand would need rehab but would not require surgery.
– Whitner said Ohio State would beat Cal by 21 points this Saturday. Mindi Bach asked him if he’s willing to bet an eyebrow on it, but he declined.