Eric Reid gives 'Honey Badger' a positive review

Eric Reid gives 'Honey Badger' a positive review
April 26, 2013, 3:00 pm
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He's a great player to be on the field with.
—Eric Reid on Tyrann Mathieu

SANTA CLARA -- The 49ers did not visit with Eric Reid prior to the draft because they did not want to draw attention to any interest they might have in the LSU safety.

Also, the team had very few questions about Reid's health, football intelligence or his character. Those are the main reasons teams meet with draft prospects.

[RELATED: Reid angling for a starting job with 49ers]

But the 49ers did visit with former LSU cornerback Tyrann Mathieu, who was kicked off the team and did not play in 2012 after breaking team rules and failing repeated drug tests. He finished fifth in the Heisman Trophy balloting in 2011.

The 49ers on Thursday traded up for Reid, making him the No. 18 overall pick in the draft. The 49ers have three scheduled picks for Friday, and Mathieu could be a possibility in one of those spots. The 49ers have done their homework on the player who earned the nickname "Honey Badger" due to his scrappy, aggressive style.

"He's a great football player," Reid said of Mathieu. "We all know he made a mistake and if he had a second opportunity that he'll make some different decisions.

"Going forward, he'll learn from it. He paid the ultimate price, as far as being a football player, and that's missing the entire season. He was on pace to do a lot of great things at LSU and he had to sit out. I definitely think that impacted him and he'll move on and be a great player."

Reid is expected to start in place of Dashon Goldson, who left via free agency. He said he enjoyed playing in the secondary with Mathieu, and would like to get that opportunity again.

"It's awesome," Reid said. "I have a front-row seat to see some of the things that he does. You all saw the highlights. West Virginia, and he's stripping the ball, batting the ball and picking it. People just don't do that. And I'm right there on the field with him. He's a great player to be on the field with."

Mathieu forced six fumbles and returned two of his five fumble recoveries for touchdowns. He also intercepted two passes and recorded 1.5 sacks and 7.5 tackles behind the line of scrimmage.

Reid made his first stop at the 49ers' practice facility on Friday after boarding a 5 a.m. flight out of New York, where he was on hand for the NFL draft. Defensive backs coach Ed Donatell picked him up at the airport. He said he looked forward to a workout at the team facility and meeting Pro Bowl safety Donte Whitner.

"I'm looking forward to meeting Donte," he said. "They told me he's here. He's hanging around. I'm going to be a sponge, learning as much as I can from him. He's a vet. Guy is going to show me how to be a professional athlete."

Reid saw and was told about the 49ers' new stadium, which is set to open for the 2014 season.

"I said, 'Man, that's nice,'" Reid said. "I'm glad I'm going to be here for the first year that it's open. I'm looking forward to it."

He added, "I just want to come in here and get to work. A starting role has to be earned. I don't expect to come in here and start right away. I'm going to be a sponge and come back and impact the team in a positive way, and just do my job. I know this defense is incredible and it'll be an honor to be on the field with those guys."

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