The San Francisco 49ers closed strong on Sunday, defeating the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 33-14 after the game appeared to be getting a little dicey. The Bucs had cut the 49ers lead to 20-14, but a 10-minute field goal drive, followed by a turnover on the ensuing kickoff blew the game open late.
After the 49ers had taken a 33-14 lead, Bucs QB Mike Glennon fired a pass just behind wide receiver Chris Owusu. Owusu tipped the ball and it bounced off free safety Eric Reid, who then hauled it in. As Reid caught the ball, he immediately went to the ground.
After the game, Reid had a chance to discuss the decision to go to the ground. Here are three articles on it:
"It probably would have been the easiest touchdown of my life. I just decided to do the right thing. If we score, that's another kickoff we have to cover. Another opportunity for someone to get hurt. The defense has to go back out and it's another opportunity for someone to get hurt. I think we're going into the end of the year - let's preserve our bodies and let's go home."
As we see on the play, Reid didn't even really look to see what his chances were on the return. He jumped up to catch the ball, and then immediately hit the deck. He also mentioned that the team practices two-minute drill work on Thursdays to prepare for such situations. This play showed the instincts learned in practice kicking in during the heat of the moment. This reaction shows that Eric Reid has the right instincts, but I think to some extent it shows that the defensive coaching staff has done their job in preparing players for these moments.
Prior to that play, it was a relatively quiet day for Reid. Although it was a relatively innocuous day, I think it says something about the value he does bring. He is a steady influence in the defensive backfield, although we know he can make plenty of big plays. Kiko Alonso is a sizable favorite to claim defensive rookie of the year honors, as he leads rookies in tackles, and is tied with Eric Reid for the lead in interceptions. Even still, I don't think we could have asked for much more from Reid in his rookie season. He replaced Dashon Goldson and has out-played the former All-Pro.
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