Matt & Mindi: 'The 49ers want safeties who are smart'
SANTA CLARA -- The 49ers traded up 13 spots to fill the only spot on the depth chart where there's no obvious starter.
The 49ers worked a trade during the day Thursday with the Dallas Cowboys to move up from No. 31 to No. 18 if their guy was available. And when LSU safety Eric Reid was still there, the deal fell into place.
"This was our top-rated safety," 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh said.
Reid was the second safety selected. Three spots earlier, the New Orleans Saints drafted Kenny Vaccaro of Texas. Reid is the front-runner to replace Dashon Goldson, who left in free agency to sign a lucrative contract with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. It would be a disappointment if he does not win the job decisively.
"I think I'm a very cerebral player," Reid said on a conference call with Bay Area reporters. "I pride myself on knowing the defense. I pride myself on being able to get the guys lined up on the team, and being a great teammate and also doing my job. I'm very fortunate to be on such an incredible defense with the guys that are up there now, and I just can't wait to get to work."
Reid is expected to team up with Donte Whitner, a veteran who is more comfortable playing close to the line of scrimmage. The 49ers believe they are getting a safety who can play the run and the pass with equal effectiveness.
"He's got the height, weight, speed that we were looking for at the position," 49ers general manager Trent Baalke said. "He's smart. He's tough. He's a physical football player. And we really felt he was an all-around safety. He can play high, he can play low, he's done a lot in the back half, and he's done a lot moving up into the box. We felt he inserted strong and played the type of ball that we wanted to see out of safety.
"We feel good about his ability to insert and play a physical brand of football. He's a physical football player. He runs in the 4.4s. He's a heady ball player. He triggers fast on the run. He reacts well to the pass. It's about learning the angles of the pro game and learning the speed of the pro game. I feel very confident he'll be able to do that and do it quickly."
Harbaugh was unsuccessful in his bid to recruit Reid to Stanford when he was a Louisiana prep star. Reid said he never considered going anywhere but LSU, where his father, Eric Reid Sr., was a three-time All-American hurdler.
This time, as Harbaugh quipped, Reid has no choice in the matter. Harbaugh also touted Reid's versatility at safety.
"He can play down in the box and he's got great contact courage," Harbaugh said. "He likes to get from Point A to Point B and go hit somebody. He's an effective tackler and he's a hard-hitting tackler. He also plays the deep part of the field extremely well and can track the football and has the speed to be a range safety and cover ground."
Reid met with Harbaugh at the NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis, but the 49ers did not invite him to Santa Clara for a visit. Baalke said he did not want to tip off the other 31 teams that the 49ers had intense interest in Reid.
Baalke said the 49ers had discussions with teams at every level of the draft about the possibility of moving up to select a player. Earlier Thursday, Baalke said he and Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones agreed to a trade if the 49ers' player was available. The 49ers did not tell Jones which player they were targeting.
The 49ers traded their pick at No. 31, as well as a third-round pick, No. 74 overall, to move up 13 spots. Now, the 49ers have their most dire need out of the way and they still have 11 picks remaining over the six rounds of the draft.
"I don't know that it was a priority," Baalke said. "We didn't wake up and say we got to get him regardless of anything. We feel very good about the guys we have. And I've said this before. The guys in that locker room aren't going to sit there and worry about Eric Reid. They got a job to do. They're competitive guys and they're going to make Eric earn everything he gets on this football team."
The 49ers are scheduled to make the second pick of the second round on Friday. The draft resumes at 3:30 p.m.
When asked if they already have their player picked out, Baalke answered, "Absolutely, we know. That means something can't happen overnight and we wake up tomorrow and somebody has a deal that you can't refuse and you trade back. Otherwise, we're prepared to make a pick."