He was the top-rated safety on San Francisco’s draft board. After 17 selections in the 2013 NFL Draft, the 49ers made the decision to move up 13 spots in the first round and take their targeted player.
After general manager Trent Baalke discussed the details of a trade with the Dallas Cowboys in the morning, the 49ers were able to pick
Jim Harbaugh called it, “a win-win.”
The 49ers used the No. 31 overall selection in the first round and their No. 74 overall pick in the third round to get a coveted prospect, Reid, the second-team All-American from Louisiana State.
Reid was honored to be the pick. He was hoping the 49ers would make him a first-round selection and 18 picks into the draft, Reid’s phone rang with San Francisco on the other line.
“He’s a hard-hitting tackler and can play the deep part of the field really well,” Harbaugh said of his new safety, the fifth LSU prospect to be drafted by the 49ers since 1970.
Harbaugh raved about the 6-foot-1, 213-pound safety’s “contact courage,” but also stressed the character of the LSU standout.
Reid played in 39 games in three seasons. He started 29 of those contests for one of the nation’s top football programs. Reid was recruited by Harbaugh to Stanford when the 49ers coach led the Cardinal to a BCS Bowl win before taking over the 49ers in 2011. Reid, a Geismar, La., native decided to stay in his home state over attending the Pac-12 school.
With the 49ers, however, it wasn’t Reid's call.
“This time Eric had no choice,” Harbaugh joked after the conclusion of the first round. “We’re glad to have him.”
Reid felt comfortable with Harbaugh from the college recruitment and described his post-draft feeling rather succinctly.
“It feels amazing,” he said. “The story comes full circle now that he’s drafted me.”
Reid totaled 199 tackles, 11 pass breakups, six interceptions, two forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries during his time at LSU. His production was stellar, but his personality was even more impressive.
“I pride myself in knowing the game, being a great teammate and doing my job,” Reid said. “I feel very fortunate to be on such an incredible defense. I just can’t wait to get to work.”
Harbaugh knew the 49ers were scouting a high-character performer and a talented one who left his mark on LSU.
“Everybody loved him down there,” Harbaugh said of his new safety.
[ PHOTOS - ERIC REID AT THE 2013 NFL DRAFT ]
“The whole body of work has been outstanding,” the 49ers coach went on to say. “He played big in big games.”
It’s not a surprise why LSU and Harbaugh felt that way. Reid played in 13 games each season for LSU and was named twice to the SEC’s All-Academic Honor Roll.
“He’s a top-shelf guy,” Harbaugh said.
The 49ers felt the high teens would be the best place to make their move and pick Reid. Dallas was a willing trade partner. It was an easy decision at that point.
“We felt that was the spot we needed to go to,” Harbaugh said of Dallas’ No. 18 overall pick. “You make the evaluation of the player and pick the player where you need to.
“This was definitely our A-option.”
Trent Baalke echoed those thoughts.
“He’s a prototype safety in terms of size,” Baalke said. “He’s got the height, weight and speed we were looking for.”
But perhaps more importantly, Baalke felt Reid fit the team’s already impressive defensive system. Reid can play the run and defend deep balls in flight.
“We feel good about his ability to insert and play a physical brand of football,” Baalke said.
The 49ers didn’t need to bring Reid into the facility to get a better idea of his personality. Based on Harbaugh’s recruitment of Reid in college and a visit with Reid at the NFL Scouting Combine, San Francisco felt comfortable with adding him to the roster.
Now, Reid joins veteran free agent
Reid, however, won’t be handed the job. He’ll have to earn it.
“There will be a tremendous competition at that position,” Harbaugh said. “We’ll let that play out.”
For his part, Reid has already studied the 49ers defense. He watched San Francisco’s stout defense all season long and their appearance in Super Bowl XLVII.
[ PHOTOS - ERIC REID'S LSU CAREER ]
“I know they’re a great group, hard-hitting safeties, great cover corners,” Reid said of the team he’s joining. “I just can’t wait to work with those guys.
“They didn’t win it this past year, but I look forward to getting to California and helping them get there next year.”
Reid felt a good “vibe” in his pre-draft conversations with the 49ers. The team never let on that he would be their target in the first-round, but he still felt it would be a good fit based on Harbaugh being the only other school to recruit him besides his father’s alma mater.
“I’m just fortunate and ecstatic to be with this team,” he said.