The San Francisco 49ers drafted Eric Reid in the first round of the 2013 NFL Draft, and the general belief was that Reid would be the starting free safety sooner rather than later. That could still be the result, but the 49ers are at least attempting to show some measure of competition at the position. According to a pair of features by the 49ers, Craig Dahl is getting first team snaps at free safety alongside Donte Whitner, while Eric Reid is working with the second team.
There is no mention of the rest of the 49ers safeties. We haven't seen an updated depth chart since the Super Bowl, which leads us to some speculation. For the Super Bowl, C.J. Spillman was the backup free safety, Trent Robinson was the backup strong safety and Darcel McBath was the third-string strong safety. The 49ers have that contingent along with Michael Thomas all competing for playing time among the safeties.
The big step for Reid will be adjusting to the speed of the game:
"It's fast," Reid said. "The veterans are here, they know the defense. The offensive guys know the offense and they're blazing. For me, it's trying to keep up, trying to get caught up to where they are mentality. That's the biggest thing for me, just knowing my plays, knowing my responsibilities and doing it."
Dahl has the advantage of already being in the NFL and having faced the 49ers the last few years, but if Reid can make that leap in knowledge and instinct, he should be able to climb past Dahl on the depth chart. When the 49ers first signed Dahl, I asked our Rams blog for some thoughts. They felt he was no more than a role player who was pressed into starting action because of depth problems in St. Louis.
Is there enough time for Reid to make that necessary leap by the end of training camp? Or could we see Dahl in the starting spot when the season opens in September?