Each year, we like to run a series of posts called "90-in-90." The idea is that we'll take a look at every player on the roster, from the very bottom to the top and break them down a few ways. This roster will certainly change, and some days we'll have more than one so it's not exactly 90 players in 90 days. At this point, it's a name we're keeping around for street cred.
The San Francisco 49ers knew exactly what they wanted to do last season. Dashon Goldson was always going to get paid a stupid amount of money to go somewhere that desperately needed his help, to the point that I doubt the 49ers did a whole lot of sending offers his way. Going into the 2013 NFL Draft, the 49ers knew another thing: exactly the player they wanted.
This year, there was talk that the 49ers were trying to trade up for Odell Beckham Jr., but last year I don't believe there was much talk beyond what they did: they moved up and drafted safety Eric Reid, the heir to Goldson. Reid came in with big shoes to fill, but rather than do so he instead got rid of those shoes and quickly made 49ers fans forget all about Goldson.
Reid had an excellent rookie campaign, getting high marks by just about everyone who paid attention. He graded highly by Pro Football Focus as well, with a +4.7 rating. One of his biggest issues, which is something I did anticipate, was missed tackles. Reid looked like a rookie with some of his tackles, completely missing (he missed at least 10 tackles over the course of the season) some due to over-pursuing and on others he simply took bad angles.
But he also made some very good tackles, and laid some big hits on opponents. He was also great in pass defense, snagging four interceptions and 11 pass deflections. Reid put out the production of Goldson without the penalties and, you know, injuring his teammates.
My biggest concern isn't the fact that he missed tackles. He'll come out with another year of 49ers coaching and he'll look just fine with his tackles. My biggest concern is the fact that he sustained multiple head injuries. He played in 16 games still, but at the same time, some of his tackles were a bit on the "run at this thing and hit it really hard with no regard for your own safety."
While I'm all-for the occasional cruise missile of hate and irresponsibility-type tackle, it led to Reid getting knocked out of the game multiple times. I hope he cleans up that form heading into next year. Regardless, if we're looking at Reid's 2013 campaign as a whole, he'd definitely be getting an A- or a B+ from me.
Why he might improve:
Reid came in and started as a rookie in one of the NFL's top defenses, and looked great doing it. He'll turn 23 years old later this season and the sky is the limit for him at this point. One can expect him to get even better, and certainly we all hope he can build on his 2013 Pro Bowl season with another one in 2014. There's not really any reason to expect otherwise, especially with the possibility that the 49ers have improved the rest of the secondary around him.
Why he might regress:
He's had exactly one good season in the NFL. This, of course, doubles up with "one season in the NFL at all," but it's important to note that we've had tons of one-hit wonders in the NFL. Reid would not be the first player to have a breakout rookie year only to hit a wall next season. As for some more explainable reasons as to why he might regress: he'll be playing with a new safety next to him in Antoine Bethea. Maybe Donte Whitner was just what Reid needed to succeed? Asking Reid to so anything other than what he did last season also could lead to his regression. It's not likely, but it's possible.
Odds of making the roster:
I'm going to have to return to what might just end up being a staple of this series of posts: the only way he doesn't make the roster is probably aliens. I don't know what they'd want with the 49ers of all teams, but aliens. Reid is the starting free safety, is coming off a Pro Bowl rookie season after being selected in the first round of the 2013 NFL Draft and he's got a 100 percent chance of making the roster, obviously.