D.J. Reed provided the quote of draft weekend when the San Francisco 49ers selected him in the fifth round.
“I'm a lock-down corner first and foremost,” Reed told reporters shortly after being drafted. “I don't get scored on, and then I get interceptions.”
The Kansas State product exhibited plenty of confidence, but Reed’s college head coach shared the corner is anything but arrogant. Bill Snyder tempered expectations for Reed during a recent appearance on the 49ers Studios Podcast. Snyder has led the Wildcats since 1989 apart from a brief hiatus from 2006-08. He’s just about seen it all. In total, 61 Kansas State alums have been drafted over that 29-year time span.
Such experience brings with it a sense of realism, and Snyder wasn’t about to trumpet Reed before the corner had even put on a 49ers helmet. The coach is smart enough to know that nothing is given for free in the NFL. There was no sense in spinning his wheels on Reed’s potential. The rookie can let his play speak for itself when he takes the field.
Still, Snyder was very complimentary of his former pupil, largely because of Reed’s character. Snyder recalled several conversations with Reed centered around the corner’s mother. Reed decided to declare for the NFL Draft and forgo his senior season at K-State in order to help his mother get through some of life’s financial difficulties.
“She’s a major factor in his life, and I think our discussions about that were memorable,” Reed said. “He’s a splendid young man. He’s got a value system in place that is admirable. He’s an extremely hard worker. He’s a very team-oriented young guy and a caring individual.”
As a football player, Snyder called Reed a ‘lead by example type of guy.’ John Lynch and Kyle Shanahan often speak about bringing in the right type of people. Reed seems to fit the mold of the “football” guy that San Francisco looks for.
“He’s 100 percent invested on the practice field. He stays in tune with everything that is taking place while he’s on the practice field or in the meeting rooms,” Snyder said. “He sets the bar pretty high in that respect. That has a very positive impact on his teammates.”
But what about his skills as a corner? His ability in the secondary is the primary reason why the 49ers targeted Reed. He posted 125 total tackles and seven interceptions during his two seasons at Kansas State. Reed then ran a 4.51-second 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine.
The 5-foot-9 corner projects best at the nickel spot. Reed will also likely see reps at free safety.
“He’s a talented young guy,” Snyder began explaining his scouting report on Reed. “He’s got deceptive speed. The clock times on him are always good, but by the same token, he’s probably a little quicker than the clock might indicate sometimes. His change of direction attributes to that. He’s a guy who can accelerate quite quickly, and he reacts well.”
As is the case with all of his former players, Snyder is eager to see how Reed fares in the NFL.
“He’s a young guy who has an excellent set of values,” the coach said. “Hopefully that will carry him through and keep him the same person that he always has been.”