Wednesday evening, the San Francisco 49ers announced they had signed fifth round pick Keith Reaser to a 4-year contract. The Florida Atlantic cornerback suffered a torn ACL last fall, and a subsequent surgery in February means he will likely spend the entire season on the Non-Football Injury List.
Reaser spoke with the media via conference call this past weekend after he was drafted. He discussed his ACL recover, his last timed 40, and what he can bring to the table. He mentioned that he had done some special teams work at FAU, but the coaching staff cut back on that so he could focus on defense.
My favorite response was probably to the question about his 40 time: "I was a slow 4.3, 4.32 is actually my fastest 40 time." He joins Darryl Morris (4.33) as one of the fastest players in the 49ers secondary. While Reaser is unlikely to play this year, Morris will be looking to work his way beyond special teams play. He opened the 2013 season on the practice squad, but earned an activation after Week 3. He spent the rest of the season on the 53-man roster, and was active every week. He shined in special teams play, and the question now is if he can turn that into more action at cornerback.
Last year, Morris did not get a whole ton of preseason playing time as the team looked prepared to stash him on the practice squad. However, this year, I suspect Morris gets a lot of preseason action. The 49ers head into the season with a cornerback depth chart that features a lot of questions after the starters. Tramaine Brock and Chris Culliver look like your starters, with Jimmie Ward looking to earn that nickel back role. Eric Wright, Perrish Cox and Chris Cook will all be competing, but I'd imagine the 49ers would love to see guys like Morris and Dontae Johnson emerge as the potential dime back, and further depth.
Can you get us up to speed on where things stand with your knee and where you are right now in your rehab?
“Things are going pretty good right now. I’m making pretty good progress. So, I’m just going to work with the 49ers doctors from here and keep the progress going.”
Did they bring you out? Have they looked at your knee at this point?
“I met with the doctors at the combine recheck in Indianapolis about two or three weeks ago.”
You tore the ACL in October and then had to have a second surgery in February. Is that right?
Why the need for the second surgery?
“There were some things that they needed to fix. I won’t go into any specifics on it, but everything’s cleaned up now so I should be good to go.”
Did you re-tear it?
“It wasn’t re-torn. They just needed to fix something.”
It was just your body was rejecting the cadaver graft? Is that what it was?
Do you get the impression that this year is just going to be a year to get yourself healthy and then re-try, try to make the team in 2015?
“I’m just going to go with the speed that the doctors tell me to go. I’m going to follow their rehab protocol. So, if that’s what they feel is best then, you know, that’s what I’m going to go with.”
Obviously you didn’t do any of the running pre-draft. Last year when you had a Pro Day down there, what was your 40 time like?
“I was a slow 4.3, 4.32 is actually my fastest 40 time. I’m definitely trying to get back to that, even faster.”
With that speed, did they have you returning punts and kicks at Florida Atlantic?
“Yeah. I started off the season returning kicks, but they kind of limited me on special teams to more so focus on defense. But, I started off the season returning kicks, kick returns.”
For somebody who hasn’t seen you play, describe your game as a cornerback?
“I think I’m a guy that can do it all. Press. I can play off. I think I’m an all-around guy. I think I know the game well. I think I pick up on the defense. I think I’m an all-around corner.”
Did you talk much with the 49ers during this process?
“Yeah. That’s probably the team I talked to the most over the course of the season and at the combine as well.”
You didn’t make a visit out here though did you?
Who did you talk to and who did you hit it off with the 49ers?
“I talked to each coach, everybody. But, I definitely loved coach [49ers head coach Jim] Harbaugh’s vibe. He definitely seemed like a player’s coach to me.”
Did you have a formal interview at the combine?
So, do you have some 49ers shirts and hats?
“Yeah. I got a hat and a bag.”
Given your injury, were you at all concerned you wouldn’t get drafted or is this about where you thought you might go?
“Obviously I wasn’t sure of anything and I heard different things from different teams. I really wasn’t putting much, I really wasn’t setting a number, an exact round on it. I’m just grateful, so grateful.”
When will you be coming out to the San Francisco area? Do you know?
“I believe tomorrow.”
Will you be here then to start your rehab? Is this a long-term stay or just kind of a check-in stay?
“I’m not exactly sure. They haven’t run me through everything yet. But, from my understanding I think tomorrow.”