The rookie safety had to replace a Pro Bowler and a fan favorite, Dashon Goldson. So far, Reid looks to be handling the challenge quite well.
In Sunday night’s 34-3 win over the Houston Texans, Reid recorded eight tackles and a pass breakup.
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The breakup, however, was almost an interception. The rookie safety out of LSU recognized a Texans pass play and broke up the field to nearly intercept Matt Schaub, who happened to throw three interceptions in the game.
Schaub’s pass hit Reid directly in the chest.
Despite the rookie missing out on his third interception of the season, the 49ers have been pleased with their No. 18 overall pick.
“It was great to see him diagnose the play,” Jim Harbaugh said. “I’m sure he wishes he would have caught the ball, but it was great to see him break on the ball and be in that kind of position. Once you do it then you get the confidence that you can do that again.”
“I’m glad he was in that situation now next time I know he’ll finish that play," Harbaugh added. "But, it was great to see him aggressive in making that play.”
Reid’s physical presence was more important in San Francisco’s win. With Houston featuring a play-action passing game and one of the NFL’s best rushing attacks, Reid’s presence in the run box was key in the victory. Reid had six tackles by the second quarter, a sign of his involvement in stuffing the run.
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Harbaugh applauded Reid for making open-field tackles on respected Texans running back Arian Foster. Reid’s only miscue on tackling came from over-running an opportunity to tackle Foster in the open field.
It was a fitting play for the 49ers safety who made headlines with his decision to drop the “W” in his last name.
Whitner supplied big hits against the Texans and was being labeled as “Stripner” by fans on social media.
After the game, Whitner sounded like he’s still planning on changing the name, despite his paperwork being delayed by the current government shutdown.
“We’re still working on that,” he said.
Whitner’s true focus was on being at his best against a quality opponent in a primetime setting.
“We came out, had a great team win, played 49er football, played sound, physical defense and got turnovers,” Whitner said.
Whitner’s turnover was also a team effort with his fellow safety, Reid.
With the rookie holding up Tate, Whitner was able to rip the ball out with his right hand. Cornerback
“This game is all about turnovers,” Whitner said. “There’s a direct correlation between turnovers and wins. We understand that and that’s why the score looks like it did.”