During his regular Tuesday press conference, San Francisco 49ers defensive coordinator Vic Fangio officially announced that rookie safety Eric Reid would be one of the starting safeties, alongside Donte Whinter, for Week 1 of the regular season. Given how Reid has performed and looked during the preseason, this announcement was just confirmation of the fact that Reid has rightfully won the competition to be the starting strong safety.
When Reid was drafted with the 18th overall pick in the 2013 NFL Draft, it was done so with an eye towards him eventually replacing Dashon Goldson, who departed as a free agent. While he was the 49ers first round selection, this alone was not going to guarantee that Reid was automatically going to be given the starting strong safety position. Reid was asked to compete, and beat out free agent signing Craig Dahl for the right to be a strong safety.
At the beginning of training camp, Reid was relegated to playing with the second string defense, while Dahl got to practice with the first team. This continued into the preseason, as Reid played with the second and third team defense for the first preseason game against the Denver Broncos. In that game, Reid proved that he was comfortable with the 49ers’ defensive scheme in a real game setting, as he did a good job of playing in the box when required, was near the ball and covered his position well. In addition, he delivered a hit on a Broncos player that reminded people of those dished out by Goldson.
Reid would again give a very good account of himself in the game against the Kansas City Chiefs, and, as a result, his performance made it clear that he was ready for the next challenge. That next challenge was playing and getting increased practice time with the first team defense. Reid got a chance to start and play with the first team defense on Sunday, in the game against the Minnesota Vikings, once again, playing very good game. After that game, it was clear he had won the starting strong safety role.
Reid was challenged to show that he was indeed worthy of being named a starter during each step of the process, and in each step along the way, Reid has answered with excellent play during preseason. Reid has impressed the coaching staff and teammates with how quickly he has picked up the system. In the end, Reid did everything asked out of him, and as result, he played his way into a starting role, and rightfully so.