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TNDZ x E-Reid x Prime-Time Rookie

Posted Jan 31, 2014

COLUMN: The San Francisco 49ers found a quality player and person in first-round draft pick Eric Reid.

If anyone deserved an all-expenses paid trip to Hawaii after the 2013 season, it was Eric Reid. The play-making safety had a remarkable rookie season for the San Francisco 49ers. The experience, however, was exhausting. It was what Jim Harbaugh would call, "only for the tough."

Reid handled it quite well all things considered. And because of that, "The No Drag Zone" wanted to recognize Reid's rise to stardom.

Put yourself in the shoes of the 22-year-old defensive back. Imagine the whirlwind the Louisiana native experienced this past season. It started at the NFL Draft.  The 49ers never brought in Reid for a pre-draft visit, but the coaching staff had familiarity with his talents from Harbaugh’s failed college recruitment of Reid. When San Francisco traded up 13 spots to take the LSU product with the No. 18 overall draft pick, the fast-paced life of professional football was just getting started. Reid couldn't spurn his coach this time. He was now one of Harbaugh's teammates.

The hard work started early on in the process. Reid was picked up at the airport by respected secondary coach Ed Donatell and within a matter of moments, both were discussing San Francisco’s defensive schemes. Reid was tabbed to be the team’s future starting free safety.

“This was definitely our A-option,” Harbaugh said after the draft.

The Niners coach was right. Reid quickly learned San Francisco's system over the course of his first NFL offseason and eventually held off a number of veteran defensive backs to earn the starting free safety position opposite of Donte Whitner. Reid worked tirelessly and perfected his technique. In doing so, he became an instant impact player on the Niners respected defense and also made former fan-favorite Dashon Goldson a distant memory in the process.

Reid endured a pair of concussions as a rookie. His physical style of tackling had to be adjusted as he learned how to last for a 16-game schedule in the NFL. The intelligent football player was willing and able to learn the nuances of professional football. He also thrived. Reid totaled 77 tackles, third-most on a stacked defensive unit. In addition, he added 11 pass breakups, four interceptions and recorded two fumble recoveries. For his efforts, Reid was selected as a first-team All-Rookie team member by the Pro Football Writers of America.

The day after Reid’s first season with the Niners came to an end, the rookie safety was quiet. He didn't have his normal upbeat demeanor. The abrupt end to his season was hard to handle. It was weighing on Reid.

“It’s a tough pill to swallow to lose that game to Seattle,” Reid told me in the 49ers locker room. “I can honestly say it was tougher than losing the National Championship when I was at LSU. It’s hard when you look at all the work the guys have put in, all the work that I’ve put in, all the dedication that it takes. People understand what it takes to be in the NFL. I know a lot of guys like myself, wake up at 5 in the morning and don’t get home until 8 o’clock at night and that’s on a daily basis.”

With those words you could tell what football meant to Reid. You could hear his passion for the game and his feelings on the tight relationships he had formed with his teammates. It wasn’t an easy day for Reid. In fact, it was a tough ending to what was an incredible rookie campaign.

Fortunately for the bright, emerging football player, good news was just around the corner. Reid received a call informing him of his inclusion in the 2014 Pro Bowl. It was well-earned, too. Reid was selected by Hall of Fame receiver Jerry Rice’s squad and wound up being a part of the winning team.

The Pro Bowl, just like his entire experience as a rookie, will be cherished for some time.

Reid is most definitely a prime-time performer. The Niners found themselves a quality player and an even better person.

- Fun with Graphics -

The 49ers Creative Service team crushes it each week in our Infographic series (#INFOGFX49).Here’s their take on the 2013 season.

- Favorite Tweets x #49ers Roster -

The 49ers have 53 players on the roster and an 8-man practice squad. Those characters in the locker room certainly know how to express themselves in 140 characters or less. Let’s enjoy their best tweets of the week.

- Recommended Viewing -

Watch these videos. Why? Because you’ll be better informed as a football fan.

- Insta Moment -
Instagram moments are too good to pass up. You have to love a Polaroid "TBT" post from Tramaine Brock.

- Parting Shot -

It’s definitely a different experience watching the Super Bowl festivities on TV as opposed to being there. This time last year we were running all over the city of New Orleans to cover the experience of San Francisco’s sixth Super Bowl appearance. I remember heading down to the joint Harbaugh press conference and then the Hall of Fame selection ceremony the following day. Now, I’m just occasionally seeing the coverage on our TV monitor inside of the 49ers Studious work space. It’s tough not being in the big game, but I do take a lot of pride in seeing how this franchise has become one of the elite football franchises once again. People have asked me will I watch the Super Bowl and will I be pulling for the Broncos. My answer is yes and … let the best team win. Since I’m not live-tweeting or writing articles about the game for the Niners, I just want to be entertained just like everyone who will be watching the Super Bowl. If you want my prediction, I’ll side with Colin Kaepernick’s assessment. I, too, think Peyton Manning is en fuego at the moment. I think the Broncos will be hard to stop on offense. Denver will win 30-24 and Bruno Mars will be entertaining in his halftime show. And if you don’t feel like watching the Super Bowl, I completely understand. Hit up a golf course or catch a new movie. Until then, enjoy your weekend and we’ll talk next week.