Eric Reid was smart enough to finish with an absurdly high GPA in high school and get recruited to Stanford. Despite Jim Harbaugh’s overtures, Reid stayed in state to play for another Michigan man, Les Miles. There must be something about Bo Schembechler’s coaching style that produces intense, quirky and highly successful coaches.
“I love my head coaches,” Reid said. “(Harbaugh’s) an interesting guy as well. They both have their own funny ways. I like to play for coaches like that.”
Reid should get a chance to play a lot in his rookie season for the San Francisco 49ers. He split time at both safety spots with C.J. Spillman and Craig Dahl during Tuesday’s OTAs, a practice Donte Whitner did not attend. I asked Reid if he was playing mostly as a free safety in practice, or if he was splitting time between both safety spots.
“Technically I’m at free, but depending on the motion or the change of strength of the offense, your responsibility could change to strong. Safeties have to know both positions,” Reid said.
The plan, however, is obvious. Whitner is the incumbent, and Reid was drafted to replace Dashon Goldson.
The good news for Reid: the jump from the SEC — universally known as the most athletic football conference in the country — to the NFL hasn’t been difficult from a physical standpoint.
“I think I’ve adjusted pretty well to the speed,” he said. “For me, it’s just knowing my plays. The playbook is way bigger than in college. On a different play, I’m doing something completely different from the last. It’s just more mental than it was in college.”
The better news for Reid and the 49ers: if studying is the biggest challenge for Reid as he acclimates to NFL life, he’s well on his way to being a productive member of the team. There’s no guarantee that players who are drafted on the first day will spend as much time reading, memorizing, questioning and visualizing as they do on their physiques. We’ve all known talented people who refused to do homework of any kind, and NFL players are no different. Some are students, some just think of themselves as players. Reid sure sounds like he’s trying his hardest to be both.
“I think I did pretty well,” said Reid in response to a question about how he judged his performance during Tuesday’s practice. “I can always do better. There were a couple of calls I was kind of confused on, shaky, that we just installed them yesterday. I’m going to get back in my playbook tonight and get it fixed for tomorrow.”
Reid told me how he was responsible for most of the calls at LSU along with linebacker Kevin Minter, who was drafted 27 picks after Reid by the Arizona Cardinals.
Tuesday’s practice might have been good preparation for Reid, since Whitner won’t be around forever. Their personalities share some similarities. They both can talk (maybe not Reid quite as much as Whitner, who’s an All-Pro as far as interviews are concerned). They’re both mature for their ages — I just looked up Whitner’s and was surprised to see he was only 27, since he acts like he’s at least 30.
It’s next to impossible to judge individual defensive players during OTAs, where hard contact is prohibited. All we have to go on is athleticism (check), attitude (check) and role (check). With all due respect to Dahl and Spillman, it would be a major upset if Reid wasn’t the starter alongside Whitner in Week 1 against Green Bay.
Here’s the full video from Reid’s interview on Tuesday: