Eric Reid vs. Dashon Goldson: What to make of the replacement option

Jason O. Watson

Eric Reid finds himself in a position to replace Dashon Goldson at free safety. How does he compare to the 49ers former starter?

A year after their 2012 draft class netted contributions from only LaMichael James, the San Francisco 49ers will be expecting a bit more from the class of 2013. It starts right from the top with safety Eric Reid, who will be expected to replace Dashon Goldson as the 49ers starting free safety. He is not being handed the job, but he has to be the odds-on favorite to claim the position.

CBS Sports' Rob Rang has been writing a series of articles called "Finding the Fits". In this series, Rang looks at various players that are particularly good fits for a team. Yesterday, he wrote about Reid and the 49ers free safety position. He referenced Reid replacing Goldson, and used that as a jumping off point for this comparison:

Like Goldson, Reid is a highly aggressive player who relishes contact, whether it comes in run support or when crushing receivers crossing the middle. Perhaps his most intriguing trait -- and where Reid will prove a significant upgrade over Goldson -- lies with his range in coverage.

At 6 feet 1, 213 pounds and possessing legitimate 4.4 speed, Reid is today's prototypical free safety. His length and speed make him a true centerfielder capable of improving San Francisco's coverage on deep passes, one of the few areas of relative weakness on a defense that ranked second in the NFL in points allowed per game (17.1).

Reid is an inch short, but eight pounds heavier than Goldson was coming out of college. Reid ran a 4.49 40, while Goldson ran a 4.60, but it is interesting to note their 10-yard split at the Combine was the same (1.53). Reid's 20-yard split was faster, running 2.55 to Goldson's 2.72. Those numbers mean only so much without pads, but they are at least interesting to reference.

Reid would seem to have the athleticism necessary to handle the job, but the key will be in avoiding over-pursuit. Reid has mentioned that has been an issue for him before, and it reads similar to what Dashon Goldson dealt with at times with the 49ers. If Reid can learn to play with patience and see the game in front of him, that extra speed will be ideal for the back end of the 49ers secondary.

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