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Eric Reid Embraces the Big Stage

Posted Sep 13, 2013

Rookie 49ers safety Eric Reid doesn't back down from playing in big games.

Seven tackles, one pass breakup and an interception on a former NFL Most Valuable Player.

That’s how Eric Reid kick-started his career with the San Francisco 49ers.

Reid’s ferocious tackling and impressive ball skills were a positive development in a Week 1 victory over the Green Bay Packers. He intercepted Aaron Rodgers and forgot to keep the ball because he was so focused on making plays.

“He played real well,” defensive co-captain Justin Smith said. “It's always tough playing against a guy like Aaron Rodgers who is always looking for a tell, always looking for a show, seeing what coverage you're in, seeing if you're blitzing. It's a tough challenge for a rookie coming in first game. Little things here and there, but other than that played really well.”

That kind of all-around effort from Reid will be needed this week in a key divisional road matchup in Seattle.

READ: 49ERS-SEAHAWKS PREVIEW


The No. 18 overall pick in the 2013 NFL Draft will face another challenging quarterback, Russell Wilson, a play-maker in the pocket who is able to scramble for yards when plays break down.

“Just from the little bit of film I’ve watched he knows how to move around in the pocket, extend the play, and he can put the ball in his receivers hands,” Reid said of Seattle’s second-year quarterback who led his team to a comeback road win to start the season.

“Some of the plays are kind of crazy how he manages to get the ball away when you think he’s sacked,” Reid added.

The focus for the 49ers defensive backs is to be patient in coverage to trust the pass-rushers up front will get to Wilson.

Reid’s coverage skills were strong in his NFL debut. He didn’t make any mental mistakes; he just wished he tackled better in the open field. Reid missed two tackles against the Packers, one of them led to Green Bay converting a third-down with a long run after the catch from wide receiver Jordy Nelson.

“I didn’t run my feet on contact, the guy got away from me,” Reid said.  

Defensive coordinator Vic Fangio, like Smith, felt Reid belonged in San Francisco’s starting defensive unit.

“He did miss a couple tackles, but overall he played well,” the respected coordinator said.

The stage doesn’t seem to be too big for Reid. It helps that he played in competitive battles each week in the Southeastern Conference. The former LSU safety said his home stadium was the loudest environment he ever encountered. Showdowns against Alabama were pretty noisy, too.

READ: RIVALRY RAISES THE BAR

Those SEC matchups prepped Reid for the physical confrontations he’d face each week in the NFL.

This Sunday, Reid will face another challenge, a veteran running back for the first time in his professional career. The proposition of tackling Pro Bowl running back Marshawn Lynch is not being taken lightly by any means.

“I know who he is and the type of running style he brings,” Reid said. “If I’m the first guy there, just try to bring good contact.”

So while Reid will be counted on defend the back end of the field and be on alert for play-action fakes from Wilson to Lynch, he’ll also have to be prepared to support the defensive front if Lynch is able to break tackles.

Reid said some of the 49ers defensive calls rely on him to be in the box, while other calls dictate how far back he plays to prevent deep passes.

“The keys are the same,” Reid said. “I have to trust what I see. If it’s a run play, then come up field where needed.”

Reid is ready for the spotlight that comes along with a rivalry game. As a three-year starter in college, Reid feels like he’s built for the gritty aspects of such matchups.

“I’m expecting a physical game, but that’s something I’m used to,” Reid said. “I’m coming from a place where we have a lot of physical games. I know I’ll be getting in the cold tub after.”

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