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Whitner: Reid Ready to Start

Posted Aug 27, 2013

The Pro Bowl safety has been honest throughout his time with the San Francisco 49ers and kept the straight-shooting spirit when discussing his rookie teammate, Eric Reid.



Donte Whitner is not afraid to keep it real.

The Pro Bowl safety has been honest throughout his time with the San Francisco 49ers and kept the straight-shooting spirit when discussing his rookie teammate, Eric Reid.

The No. 18 overall pick in the 2013 NFL Draft made his first preseason start last week against the Minnesota Vikings. For his efforts, Reid earned praise from Whitner.

The rookie free safety caught Whitner’s eye by showing his propensity to deliver big hits.

“He was that way at LSU and it’s carried over into the National Football League,” Whitner noted. “We expected that. He’s making good contact with guys out there, so hopefully he continues to do that.”

Equally important is Reid’s mental capacity, including his ability to make calls in the defensive backfield.

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According to Whitner, Reid wasn’t lacking in that area against the Vikings.

“He was calm, cool, collected,” Whitner, an eighth-year veteran said. “He made a lot of calls, did a lot of communicating, tackled well.”

Reid hasn’t been named as a full-time starter just yet, but he did well in making his case to be San Francisco’s starting safety on Opening Day, Sept. 8 against the Green Bay Packers.

“He played well,” Whitner said. “It doesn’t look like being with the ones is too big for him.”

Reid’s physical play fits in well with the 49ers vaunted defensive unit. The first-team defense has not surrendered a touchdown in three preseason games.

“We feel good. We feel tested,” Whitner said. “We were able to play a lot more this past game, got our feet underneath us. We’re making a lot of plays on the football.”

Whitner noted that the first-team defense and reserve players have all been able to limit big plays from the opposition.

“We’re not giving up plays over 25 yards,” he said. “That’s something we pride ourselves on.”

Whitner maintained that the first defense is focused on making minor improvements prior to the Week 1 matchup with Green Bay.

So far, Whitner is seeing the same brand of play by San Francisco’s front-seven. Even without Patrick Willis in the lineup, as he rests a hand injury suffered in training camp, the 49ers defensive front has been able to make plays behind the line of scrimmage.

“They’re playing dominant football, stopping the run, getting off blocks and getting guys to the ground,” Whitner said. “They’re getting sacks, strips, so it’s been pretty good, but we can still get better.”

Justin Smith recorded a monster four-yard, tackle-for-loss last week against Vikings running back Toby Gerhart. Outside linebackers Ahmad Brooks and Aldon Smith also provided a signature moment – Brooks forced a fumble on Minnesota quarterback Christian Ponder on the opening defensive possession and Aldon Smith was able to quickly recover the ball.

Such plays speak to San Francisco’s ability to continue its disruptive brand of football.

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Whitner, meanwhile, loves every minute of it.

“Coverage and pressure go together,” he said. “A lot of the times when you see those get pressure it’s good coverage, a lot of the times when guys aren’t in good coverage, the pressure helps us.

“Both of us are working together.”

For the remainder of the week, Whitner is focused on getting his body right for Green Bay. The veteran safety is unsure if the starters will see action in Thursday night’s preseason finale against the San Diego Chargers.

Defensive starters like Whitner are now slowly gearing up for Green Bay.

“I’m trying to accomplish getting ready for game one,” Whitner said. “I don’t know if we’re going to play this week or much at all. Our focus, for guys who are getting ready for Green Bay, is get your bodies in the best shape it can possibly be in and make sure you get your legs ready.

“We’ll make sure we’re ready to go.”

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