Eric Reid was everywhere on Saturday night against the Denver Broncos.
At the start of the 49ers offseason, new defensive changes meant a new opportunity for the 2013 first-round pick. Reid had previously played at free safety his first four seasons with the 49ers. He's now the 49ers strong safety and playing primarily in the box.
Reid showed Saturday night that his new role in Robert Saleh's scheme is a perfect fit for his physical skill set.
"I'm in the box more - closer to the line of scrimmage, more involved in the run," Reid said following Saturday night's preseason game. "Some plays I am a linebacker basically depending on what coach Saleh calls. We all switch roles depending on what the call is. That linebacker mentality has been big. So, I'm excited about that."
Reid has premiered as a strong contributor on defense against both the pass and run game. Take into account his first quarter on Saturday against the Broncos. During Denver's first possession, Reid stuffed the hole on a handoff to running back C.J. Anderson allowing defenders to hold the running back to just a yard gain. A few plays later, Reid's coverage of Broncos tight end Virgil Green forced quarterback Paxton Lynch into a throw that was nearly intercepted by Lorenzo Jerome.
View photos from the 49ers second preseason game against the Denver Broncos.
Reid finished Saturday night with six tackles and one assist in just 23 snaps.
Reid wasn't alone. Jerome also played well. So, too, did Jaquiski Tartt. Jimmie Ward's hamstring is almost back to full strength as well. All of a sudden the 49ers have plenty of depth at safety. That allows Saleh to cater to each player's strengths, and he's done just that with Reid.
"I think we just have a bigger role being in the box," Reid said. "We're just more involved in plays whereas in a two –high safety defense, you're more in the pass game and when you're a safety, you just stop the big plays. But with our scheme, the safeties, we're around the ball more filling gaps."
Just two games in to the preseason, Reid looks to have found his fit in the 49ers defense. Reid hasn't made a Pro Bowl since his rookie season in 2013. Maybe this is the year the safety rejoins the NFL's elite.
"I like it. Just being around the ball more," Reid added. "Tackling is my favorite part of the game. I love to hit. So, I have more opportunity to do that."