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Eric Reid talks about new leadership role, new defense, Jimmie Ward's progress

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The 49ers safety spoke to the media on Wednesday on his thoughts with the new coaching staff and the defense. Here is the full transcript. You can watch the entire video here.

What distinguishes this one [new San Francisco 49ers' defensive system] from the other ones you've been playing in?

I think I like this one the best. It just makes sense. When you line up and get a call, I know exactly what I'm doing. I know exactly what the guy next to me is doing, and when you feel that way, you can be confident on the way you break from the ball. Speaking from a DB perspective, because you what you're weaknesses are, and you know what your strengths are. Just for example, if I have outside leverage, then don't get beat outside. And trust that the guy inside of you is going to play inside routes, so it just makes a lot of sense.

Are you saying it's simpler than the other ones. Less to think about?

I wouldn't say it's simpler, there's some thinking to do. Once you get your call, once you make that adjustment, you can be confident, as long as everyone is on the same page, that you can do what you're supposed to do. Take a shot every once in awhile.

Last year, especially early it didn't seem like you guys were on the same page a lot. Or I should say you were off the same page more frequently. Why was that? Is this what you're talking about with the transition to this defense?

I can't put my finger on one particular thing, but yeah, there was a lot of times where there was too much grey area. I'm wondering what this guy's gonna do, so I'm watching him instead of watching the offense. I don't know what the guy in front of me's doing. So a little too much grey area at times last year, but that's the past, I'm focusing on this year and this year is looking good.

You said there's a lot to think about in this defense. Some Browns players last year had concerns with that, especially with the run defense and gap integrity. Are you guys worried about that at all, that it could be too much when you get on the field?

That's always a concern when you play defense. I was just talking with Arik [49ers defensive lineman, Arik [49ers defensive lineman, Arik Armstead] about it to make sure guys are on the same page. So that's always a concern no matter what call it is. So I'm not concerned about it now, it's OTAs if there is confusion, we'll get it worked out, we still have training camp. So by that time, we should have all the kinks worked out.

What's [49ers defensive coordinator] Jim O'Neil been like in front of the classroom?

He's passionate. He wants every down to be a good down. He doesn't want the offense to catch the ball. He was pretty upset, they caught a couple balls on us yesterday and wasn't happy about it, so we came out had a better day today.

What's your scouting report on Rashard Robinson, LSU guys?

I like him. Tough kid, need to put some weight on him, he may have to start working out with me a little bit. I think he'll be alright.

The landscape on the football team changes really quickly. You're one of the old veterans. Are you conscious that they are kinda looking towards you? And you bring something way different than you did just a couple of years ago?

Well that's the unfortunate part of the business. I have guys that I've gotten close to on the team that are no longer with this team and it sucks. It's just the business side of football that nobody likes. It is what it is, you know it coming into it. The guys that we have now are the guys that are going to be with us this year and those are the guys we are going to focus on. I think my role is to be a safety; make the call make the check and put the guys in a good position to make plays.

How do you like this group of young guys? They are looking towards you for some leadership and guidance?

I like them a lot. They want to work and that's the main thing. You got a group of guys that just want to come in and work every day, you can get better. What's the saying, "when the water rises, all the ships rock"? So when everyone raises the level, everyone is getting better.

Going against an offense like this and we're in a new defensive system, does that pace make it harder or easier is it simplified just because you have to think so quickly?

It's tough right now and I'm open to that, I accept that challenge because when the game comes, name a team that is going to go that fast so the game should be slow motion for us when it comes. So I like it, it's a challenge and I'm up for a challenge and it should make us better in the long run.

Eric, Trent [49ers general manager Trent Baalke] has talked about wanting to keep you here obviously beyond next year.

I hope so.

Where does that stand? And is there a timeline for you on when you want to get a deal done?

I just want to play football, man. What's going to happen is going to happen, It's out of my control. Me worrying about it isn't going to make it come any faster. So I just want to be out here to play football with my guys and go home to my family every day.

Do you get the feeling from them they want to see more out of you before you get a longer contract? or is that possibly already on the table now?

That's business isn't it? You look at any form of business not just football, they want production. I haven't had that conversation, but it's obvious they want to see something so that's all business.

Has Jimmie [Ward] gotten reps with the first team at safety?

Not at safety, he's been working at Corner.

How's he been doing at corner?

I think he's been doing well. He's obviously been making the transition, he's never played the position but he had a couple of nice plays today, so he just has to keep working.

What distinguishes him, when you're looking from the back end? What's his calling card as a cornerback?

I think he's good at the line of scrimmage. He's patient, he can get his hands on guys, and in the NFL if you can disrupt the route, you mess up that timing, then the play is dead for that receiver, I think that's something he does well. He works really good at the line of scrimmage.

Jim O'Neil was telling us a couple hours ago he views Jimmie ward as one of the best 11 players on the defense, is that clear to you?

I would agree with that.

Can you talk about what it's like what Antoine Bethea back does for the defense?

It's just experience. When you play the game 10 plus years I don't know if there's anything you haven't seen. I know the year before I got here, they did the gun read with Colin and stuff. It's rare when you see something new. Football is football at ht end of the day. The flat is always the flat, the A-gap is always the A-gap. So he just sees something and he sees it fast. So you see a formation line up, and he's calling something and I'm looking at him like "alright" and they do it, they do what he says. He just has that experience.

How is he physically?

He's well, we worked out today, are you talking about his chest?


It's good, we bench pressed together today. I'm nervous for him, spotting him and stuff, but he's doing alright.

How much?

245? And that was the incline, so we're doing alright.

Who are the leaders on the team?

I think we have a buncha guys. Obviously NaVorro, Antoine, Blaine, Colin, Glenn Dorsey. Guys that really take pride in passing on knowledge. They aren't selfish guys, they see a young guy coming in, they say, "Look, when this happens you got to do this" so they are just passing their knowledge onto the next guy.

Do you think the team had a leadership issue last season? You were 1-7 on the road, that can be attributed to a young team what do you think?

I don't think leadership was an issue. We were I don't know, 2-12, but we still had hope, we came to work everyday looking to win a game, so I wouldn't say leadership is an issue.

How do you handicap the battle in front of you to start next to Navarro? How do you view that competition in terms of those three guys competing for that starting spot?

For the linebackers?

Yes. Next to Navarro?

I think they are all capable. It will be interesting to see who separates themselves. But we got some guys who can play ball. We'll see how it goes. This is just OTAs. so real stuff will happen in August.