Two concussions later, rookie safety Eric Reid of the San Francisco 49ers is thinking he might have to change the way he does things.
Reid came out of LSU into the NFL Draft this spring with the reputation for being a big hitter, but Reid has been lit up twice—once by Seattle Seahawks receiver Sidney Rice and then again on Sunday by 5-foot-9, 245-pound bowling ball/running back Mike Tolbert of the Carolina Panthers.
Reid suffered concussions in both collisions and he’s thinking that he might need to reconsider that style of play.
“This is the NFL,” Reid told the Sacramento Bee. “Guys are a little bit stronger, a little bit bigger than what I’m used to and I might have to adjust a little bit.”
Reid has been in on 40 tackles this season, 34 of them solos, and also has three interceptions and six passes defended. He has a pair of eight tackle games—Oct. 6 against the Houston Texans and in London on Oct. 27 against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
The Louisiana native said he hasn’t considered not playing this Sunday, when the 49ers visit the New Orleans Saints at the Superdome.
“This is part of my dream—to get to play in that stadium against Drew Brees and the Saints,” Reid said.
Reid has some extra motivation—he was still on the board when the Saints selected 15th overall this spring. They opted for Texas safety Kenny Vaccaro. The 49ers traded up to take Reid three selections later.
Reid hasn’t been cleared for Sunday yet, but has so far passed all of the cognitive tests this week. He practiced Wednesday, albeit in a no-contact jersey.
Reid was drafted to replace All-Pro Dashon Goldson, who signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as a free agent in March. Goldson went to two Pro Bowls while playing free safety for the 49ers and was an All-Pro pick for the first time last season after intercepting three passes, defending 10 passes and making 67 tackles, 53 of them solo.
One thing Reid won’t get to do is go head-to-head against Vaccaro. New Orleans’ rookie safety sustained his second concussion of the season on Sunday against the Dallas Cowboys and said via social media he won’t play Sunday.
Reid has been everything the 49ers had hoped he would be when they tabbed him to step into Goldson’s spot in the secondary. If he can continue to make plays and keep his head out of harm’s way, so much the better for the ballclub.
San Francisco faces a huge challenge in New Orleans against a team that is also playing for postseason positioning. The Saints are 7-2 and have a one-game lead over the Panthers in the NFC South, but have both of their head-to-head matchups with Carolina remaining. San Francisco fell to 6-3 with the loss Sunday and trails the Seahawks by 2.5 games in the NFC West and would be the conference’s second wild card and No. 6 playoff seed as of right now, losing the head-to-head tiebreaker with Carolina for the No. 5 spot.