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Reid Improves vs. Kaepernick, Davis

Vic Fangio would not reveal his starting free safety for Friday night's preseason matchup in Kansas City.

First-round pick Eric Reid is one of three likely contenders to get the nod in the starting lineup opposite of Pro Bowl safety Donte Whitner. The other two would be C.J. Spillman and Trenton Robinson, both have received first-team reps this offseason. Veteran Craig Dahl got the first starting spot in the preseason opener against Denver.

For now, Fangio is holding on to his cards a little bit longer and would not say if Reid would start or not.

"I haven't decided that yet," the defensive coordinator said when asked about giving the rookie a chance to run with the ones against the Chiefs.

Reid, the No. 18 overall pick in the 2013 NFL Draft, took most of the first-team free safety reps on Monday after missing Saturday and Sunday's session due to his back tightening up.

"I thought he played well in the game," Fangio said of Reid's preseason debut. "(He) showed progress, showed promise."

Reid, too, was encouraged with his debut. He recorded six tackles against the Denver Broncos and displayed several jarring tackles.

"I felt comfortable," the former LSU standout said. "I do think there's some things I could improve on, but for the most part, I feel like I had a good game. Made some tackles and we didn't give up a big play on defense, so that's always good. We've got room to get better."

Fangio detailed Reid's big hits as a positive development. Reid also delivered them within NFL rules.

"We love the big hit and coach it and try to get it any time we can get it," Fangio said. "He's just got to be smart in there. He's got to not hit after the whistle and not hit a guy in the head or hit a defenseless receiver.

"He didn't really have any of those plays the other day, so we're going to be as aggressive as we can and as physical as we can within the rules."

Reid's development has been steady in camp. Even with progress, Reid is not placing too much pressure on himself to start at free safety. Instead of looking towards San Francisco's Week 1 matchup against the Green Bay Packers, Reid is focused on improving each day against the 49ers top play-makers.

Reid has enough to worry about on a daily basis facing the likes of Colin Kaepernick and Vernon Davis.

"I try not to look too far ahead," Reid said of team's season opener on Sept. 8 against Green Bay. "I'm always trying to work on myself and get better as a player. We've got a pretty good quarterback here that I go against on a daily basis. I try to use that every day to try and get better."

Reid focuses on using precise steps to close on rifled passes from the 49ers quarterback.

With some quarterbacks Reid might be in position to make a pass breakup or record an interception. It's just tougher to do it against Kaepernick, the third-year passer who consistently showcases his elite arm talent.

"I don't imagine it's much tougher than that," Reid said. "Coming down the middle and he throws 40 yards on a line, you've got to take a pretty sharp angle to get there, to meet the ball. That's helping me out.

"I've got the mindset of you have to get better because Kap will make you look bad if you're not on your toes. That's just motivation for me to get better as a safety. It's great for me in preparing for the season to go against Kap every day at practice."

Along the same lines, Reid is routinely facing tough task in limiting Davis' production. The 49ers tight end continues to be a big key in San Francisco's passing attack and displays his growing chemistry with Kaepernick on a daily basis.

"He's definitely a threat," Reid said of Davis. "I don't want to sound redundant, but it's fortunate for me that I get to go against him because I don't know if there's a better tight end in this league.

"The guys on this team are helping me develop as a player."

Fangio sees his rookie safety being "self-critical" with every day of practice. The rookie has taken to coaching and wants to get better.

But as for wanting to be the starter, Reid is going to let his play do the talking on the subject.

"When the coach decides who to start, whether it's me or another guy, regardless of that, I'm going to help this team out in any way that I can."


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