The 2013 NFL Draft, while not teeming with top-10 talent, is deep at a few positions, one of which is safety. The 49ers struggled mightily against the pass in the postseason, after having one of the better secondaries in the league throughout most of the regular season. One of the biggest questions surrounding the team going into the offseason was in regards to free safety Dashon Goldson. Once his contract expired, the 49ers chose not to franchise him for the second consecutive year, allowing him to test the market. He eventually defected to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for a five year contract worth up to $41.25 million. The Niners were never going to compete against the deep pockets of the Bucs.
With a glaring need at safety, it was assumed by many that the 49ers would look to a deep free agent class for Goldson's replacement. Ed Reed, Laron Landry, Louis Delmas, Adrian Wilson and others all signed elsewhere. The 49ers, meanwhile, were relatively calm, signing ex-Ram Craig Dahl for some depth and a chance to compete for the starting position vacated by Goldson. With free agency dwindling and the team running low on cap space following the trade for Colt McCoy, most observers have them selecting one of the prospects from this year's deep safety class in the draft.
With the 49ers holding selections at No. 31, No. 34 and No. 61, many options are available. The name that keeps popping up is LSU's Eric Reid. In an article by The Chronicle's Eric Branch on the signing of Dahl, an unnamed source tells the paper that the 49ers have "spent plenty of time doing background" on Reid. Plenty of mock drafts have the 49ers taking him with one of their top three picks. Pegging down Reid's draft position is difficult. He was presumed to be a second round selection, and some mocks projected the 49ers to select him at the end of the round two with pick No. 61. Following a pro day that saw his stock rise substantially, some are tabbing him as a late first-round pick.
What Reid brings to the table is intriguing. He was expected by many to be the top safety in college football before an inconsistent junior season left some doubts as to his pro-readiness. Physically, he is the best specimen at the position. At 6'1" and 210 lbs, he's one of the larger safeties available. He's also the fastest of the consensus top five, running a 4.53 40-yard dash. With the physical tools and measurables of a star, why isn't Reid viewed as a top choice?
Reid looked lost in coverage at times and was beaten on numerous occasions. He looked bad in the Chick-fil-A Bowl against Clemson, giving up multiple big plays, further damaging his stock. At the end of the bowl season, some predicted Reid to fall as low as the third round. But times have changed. Teams are falling in love with his size and speed. The 49ers, needing a safety, are rumored to be one of those teams. Many of the problems Reid experienced, taking bad angles and questionable tackling, could be fixed by good coaching. Fortunately, Ed Donatell is one of the best secondary coaches in the game. Reid is also purported to have great character and leadership skills and is extremely hard working. That, mixed with his physical skills and SEC pedigree, makes him an extremely attractive proposition for a team with championship aspirations and a big void to fill.
Being a Sheep
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