Eric Reid Ed Donatell 49ers Practice

Starting tomorrow, unrestricted free agents get to converse with any team they like, not just the teams they played for in 2013. What’s that you say? Teams have probably been reaching out quietly to all sorts of free agents, even though doing so is against the rules? Man, the cynicism I have to deal with. Premature negotiation is not something the NFL takes lightly.

As Donte Whitner gets ready to hit the market for the second time in his career, the teammate who played alongside him throughout his rookie season made it known that he’d like their working relationship to continue.

Reid doesn’t have a say in the matter, but that’s a pretty bold tweet from someone who just finished his rookie season. The guy makes his first Pro Bowl, and next thing you know he’s giving advice to Trent Baalke and Paraag Marathe.

(I just now noticed how the team’s two main decision-makers when it comes to the roster and salary cap have so many a’s in their names. Maybe that’s why Jim Harbaugh constantly says everyone and everything is A++, but probably not.)

Reid and Whitner talked quite a bit during training camp about how the latter mentored the former, and it started their first week together during minicamp.

“It’s not easy for a rookie to come in and want to lift, want to get up at 6:30 in the morning and come in and lift with a veteran when he has all the special teams to do and a long day ahead. 12-13 hour days is what we were putting in,” Whitner said.

“That’s when you challenge him. Where you challenge somebody to get up at 6:30 in the morning, knowing they have a long day. First week I challenged him every day to get up at 6:30 in the morning, and he did it. That’s why he’s our starting free safety now.”

Reid didn’t just learn about work habits and how to make calls on the field when necessary; he actually took a page out of Whitner’s playbook with the tweet above. Whitner asked fans to retweet him if they wanted him to retire as a Niner about a month and a half ago, and in response he got over 3,600 RTs.

There hasn’t been much talk about a potential Whitner extension, either from the player’s side or the 49ers front office. It can’t hurt Whitner’s case that his partner in the secondary and thousands of fans would like to see “Hitner” continue his career with the 49ers, but Reid and the fans aren’t the ones writing the checks. For a look at some free agents the 49ers could be interested in when the floodgates open on March 11 (including a safety that shares some similarities with Whitner), click here.

And it took nine hours, but Whitner retweeted Reid early Friday morning.

Donte Whitner Eric Reid