We have been doing a position-by-position breakdown of the first half of the 49ers season, but for some positions, I also want to go into detail on a given player. One such player is safety Eric Reid. We'll have a look at the safeties next week, but in the meantime, there has been some chatter asking whether or not Eric Reid is suffering a sophomore slump. We even had a FanPost on the topic.
I decided to go back and check out game tape for Reid to see what was going on with him. I went through the All-22 tape for all seven games and focused exclusively on Reid. I will admit right off the bat that this process is flawed by not knowing the playbook or specific assignments. On what appeared to be Reid's worst play of the season, we got some comment on it (more on that in a bit), but otherwise, we are left guessing to a certain extent.
First off, here are some PFF numbers for Reid:
Grade: 1.3 (28th out of 64): -0.1 in pass rush, 0.5 in coverage, 1.2 against the run, -0.3 in penalties
Run tackling efficiency: 29th out of 64
Coverage snaps/reception allowed: 16th out of 55
According to PFF, opposing quarterbacks have thrown at Eric Reid 14 times, which averages out to 2 times per game. Last season, PFF says he was targeted 50 times, which averages out to just over 3 times per game. That is not a huge difference, but it is one area that would explain why we don't hear his number called that frequently.
I went through his 7 games, and it really does seem like we do not seem involved in pass plays all that frequently. Over the first seven games he has played a lot of the center field role. He frequently starts back-pedaling at the snap of the ball to cover that broader area. The 49ers have mixed in Antoine Bethea in a similar role, but it appeared Reid handled it more frequently. I did not have time to specifically chart the numbers, but that's what I appeared to see.
The two biggest plays for Reid came against the Dallas Cowboys and Arizona Cardinals. Against the Cowboys we saw a mix of good and bad on Reid's interception. As we see in the GIF below, Reid bites on the play action, but is able to recover and get back into coverage.
Two weeks later against the Arizona Cardinals, Reid had a poor day in coverage. Wide receiver John Brown had a pair of third quarter touchdowns, and Reid seemed to be involved in mix-ups in both games. The first touchdown seemed to be poor coverage by Reid, but after the game he mentioned some kind of miscommunication with Jimmie Ward.
In mentioning a miscommunication above, he also acknowledged that the second Brown touchdown was his own fault. As you can sort of see here, Reid bit on a pump fake. I can only assume he thought Stanton was throwing underneath to the guy covered by Chris Cook. It looks like Cook was shielded a bit by Brown's route, so Reid seemed to think he needed help.
Reid had one other bad moment in Week 2 when Martellus Bennett beat him for a short touchdown on 1st and goal at the 3. The Bears split Bennett out into the slot, and ran a little out rote in the end zone. He got a hand on Reid near the end, but it seemed like Reid got a bit out of position.
Those are the most notable moments of bad coverage for Eric Reid this season. He has not been targeted much, as teams appear much more willing to go deep down the sidelines, or pound it underneath. He'll make mistakes here and there, and we've seen that with some play action mishaps. However, I would say he has been a bit more steady week-in and week-out. He is not super flashy, but he is solid. We want to see continued improvement, but I'd say establishing consistency can sort of count as improvement in some way. What do you think?