When Dashon Goldson left as a free agent, many San Francisco 49ers fans began to wonder who would come in and fill the void left behind by the strong safety. In response, the 49ers went out and drafted Eric Reid out of LSU with the 18th overall pick.
Reid has not only filled the void left behind the departure of Goldson, but he has probably played even better.
So far through eight games into his rookie season, Reid has 39 tackles (33 of which are solo), six pass deflections and has intercepted three passes, putting him in a tie for eighth. In many ways, Reid’s stat line does not do justice to how well he has played so far in the 49ers’ defensive scheme. He has exceeded early expectations as a starter without any signs of him holding back the play of the defense.
What has Reid done that makes him an upgrade over Goldson? First and foremost, Reid has shown a willingness and a commitment to get better and learn his craft from the first day he stepped foot into the 49ers’ training facility. His commitment to being a professional impressed teammates and coaches that during preseason.
Despite him being in competition with Craig Dahl for a starting safety spot alongside Donte Whitner, Reid played his way into the first-team defensive unit by playing well in preaseason games to go along with making impressive displays in training camp.
Reid has also shown that he knows where to be and what do on any given play. In addition to delivering a few hard hits, something which made Goldson stand out as a fan favorite, Reid has shown to be a better pass defender than expected when he was drafted. His pass coverage skills have allowed the cornerbacks to be able to take a few gambles and jump certain pass routes from time to time, knowing that they have a safety in Reid behind them to provide cover.
His ability to make plays has already seen Reid intercept three passes, and he could have potentially intercepted a few more if he’d held on to ball better.
In addition to his abilities in pass coverage, Reid has done a solid job of coming up and helping to stop the run even if he’s had a few missed tackles. The fact that he has played this well and has been even better than his predecessor is a testament to how talented he is, and also speaks to how hard he works to being a great safety who is only going to get better.