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Eric Reid Tackling the Cause of His Concussions

Posted Nov 13, 2013

The 49ers rookie safety addressed his style of play and the physical and mental adjustments he may need to make to avoid future injury.

In Eric Reid’s mind, the only change he can make to better protect it is as much mental as it is physical.

Go figure.

When Reid suffered his second concussion in three months in Sunday’s second quarter trying to tackle 245-pound Carolina Panthers running back Mike Tolbert, he tried hitting Tolbert too high. The side of his head took to brunt of it.

Reid said he can do a better job of recognizing the ball carrier in advance and deciding how to wrap him up.

“I probably should have hit him lower – he’s a bigger guy, but some of those things happen really fast,” the 49ers rookie safety said Wednesday. “This is the NFL. Guys are a little bit stronger and little bit bigger than what I’m used to playing, so I might have to adjust the way I play a little bit.”

Especially if he wants to be deemed good to go on Sunday in San Francisco’s Week 11 matchup at New Orleans. Therein lies the question: As a Louisiana native, Reid badly wants to play, but as a survivor of two head injuries already this season, is he healthy enough?

GALLERY: Reid at Practice on Wednesday

The Saints own first-year safety, Kenny Vaccaro, has also been diagnosed as concussed twice this season and has ruled himself out of Sunday’s game as a precaution.

Reid is not thinking along the same lines.

“This is my dream,” Reid said. “This is what I’ve been wanting to do for a long time. So as long as I feel fine and the doctors tell me I can play then I’m going to play. Right now it’s just a waiting game for me.”

Reid jogged and was free of symptoms on Tuesday, when he also underwent a neurological test. He and tight end teammate Vernon Davis, who also suffered a concussion against the Panthers, must pass a light-contact test on Thursday or Friday as part of the NFL’s protocol.

Both players were limited participants in practice on Wednesday. Reid was seen wearing a blue, non-contact jersey while also sporting a new kind of helmet, plus a dark visor connecting his facemask.

READ: 49ers to Monitor Davis, Weigh TE Options

Jim Harbaugh for one wouldn't rush Reid back to the field.

“I go back in the days of two fingers, three fingers, one finger, ‘How many fingers do I got up?’ It’s advanced so much further from that,” the 49ers coach said. “So I think we’re on the right track in leaving it up to the doctors. Leave me out of it.”

Harbaugh and linebacker NaVorro Bowman said they’d like to see Reid alter his tackling technique.

Harbaugh: “I think there’s going to be some coaching of himself there. There’s always a different way to do things and he’ll adjust.”

Bowman: “Him being so young, we know that he can get a lot better. He’ll learn how to approach certain things and do certain things out there and not always put himself in harm’s way… You don’t tackle everyone the same in this league, as he continues to play he’ll learn that."

If Reid is deemed in playing condition in time for Sunday, he’ll be lining up against his favorite team growing up.

Actually, if it wasn’t for the Saints thinking so highly of Vaccaro, a Texas product whom they drafted three spots ahead of Reid at 18th overall, Reid could have been playing for his hometown crowd.

On draft day last April, Reid said, “I did hold my breath for a little bit (when the Saints picked), I won’t lie.”

“He’s been very impressive,” said New Orleans coach Sean Payton, who did his pre-draft due diligence on Reid. “You can see him getting better each week. I think he’s found his role within that defense and played it very, very well.”

Reid circled this game on the schedule.

“I have been looking forward to this one," he said. "This is a part of my dream, to get to play in that stadium against Drew Brees.”

Told this, Brees chuckled.

“It seems like LSU has about two ‘DBs’ going out in the first round every year,” the Saints signal-caller said. "I was very familiar with him and his career at LSU; he had a phenomenal career.”

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