Minutes after arriving in San Francisco, Eric Reid was already being quizzed by secondary coach Ed Donatell on defensive terminology. By the end of the car ride, Reid rattled off names of formations and personnel groupings.
After rookie minicamp, the rookie safety's learning process remains ongoing. Reid, however, has another great mentor in Pro Bowl safety Donte Whitner.
"In the meeting room, it's like nothing to him," Reid told 49ers.com about the eight-year veteran. "Coach (Donatell) makes a call and he makes a check. He could do it in his sleep. That's where I want to be. That's what I'm trying to work towards, knowing the playbook like the back of my hand. It takes a lot of work and I want to get good at it."
That knowledge of Vic Fangio's defense didn't come easy to Whitner. The eighth-year pro knows how difficult it can be to pick up a new scheme as a rookie.
"They really need to make sure that they get into the playbook," Whitner said. "Out here in football school, we do a lot of walk-throughs and the motions and the shifts are slow. Once we get into OTAs, it's going to be really fast. You have to be able to think on your feet, think quick and be able to react. Whenever you're a rookie and you come into this league and you have to think, you're one step slower than you would be if you were already implemented into this system."
Whitner believes Reid has the ability to make the transition and execute at a high level for the 49ers. Whitner recalls watching plenty of LSU games last year and Reid, the 6-foot-1, 213 pound safety wearing No. 1, caught his attention.
"You see him flying around, hitting people, getting his hands on the football," Whitner said. "We're eager to see what he can do at the pro level."
In addition to his physical attributes, Whitner has noticed Reid working hard in the classroom through the first week the two have been together at football school.
"Very smart guy, very intelligent, hard worker," Whitner pointed out about Reid. "He wants to get everything down right away. It's not an overnight thing. You're not going to get everything down overnight. That's what I continue to tell him. It's going to be a process, but I'm going to be there to help him along the way.
"He's going to be a really good player."
Reid has followed Whitner's example, both on the field and off the field. Reid has been amazed by Whitner's approach in the weight room and hopes to one day set a similar example.
That work ethic isn't limited to Whitner, however. Reid can learn from several of the 49ers veterans in the secondary.
"I'm on a great team to be a part of being a rookie," Reid said. "There's a ton of guys around here I can learn from. It's going to set the tone for my whole career. I'm just trying to be a sponge right now and absorb as much information as I can."