I was so sure our beloved San Francisco 49ers would show up at Levis' Stadium and gain an upset victory over the Seattle Seahawks. The game certainly started out positive, with our defense doing a great job making things difficult for Russell Wilson and crew. However, offensively we couldn't get anything going and eventually the defense wore down, conceded several scores, and we lost the game.
There were a few bright spots defensively. Reuben Foster tackled anything that moved, Ahkello Witherspoon played well against a savvy group of wide receivers, and Eric Reid led the team with seven solo tackles.
Reid is one of my favorite 49ers, he's one of the few left from the Vic Fangio era, and he also plays hard. Moving into the strong safety role this year is really allowing him to be physical and defend the line of scrimmage. He's a solid match up against any tight end in the league, but does against quick wide receivers, like the Arizona Cardinals group for example.
Last Sunday, Seahawks tight end Jimmy Graham was held to three catches for 34 yard. The one touchdown was against Witherspoon, who just doesn't have the NFL size currently to compete with a tight end the size of Graham. Reid consistently forced the issue at the line of scrimmage, played physical in coverage, and moved sideline to sideline well.
His transition to the linebacker role is not something I'm that high on because he's just not strong enough to shed blocks from some of the massive offensive tackles in the NFL. Teams like the Dallas Cowboys and the Philadelphia Eagles often ran right at him with success. One positive of him at linebacker is that check downs and screens are well defended as he's often able to push off a tight end or wide receiver to make the tackle. We'll be looking at some clips that demonstrate these types of plays against Seattle.
Our first clip is the first offensive snap for Seattle, and it's an interception by Reid. There's more than meets the eye with this one. Jimmy Graham looks like the 3rd read, Russell Wilson looks left initially, at the last minute comes right and throws a late floater. The rush causes him to throw off his feet and the ball has no power. Reid, initially beat at the line, does a good job of chasing Graham down to make the play.
Reid is often able to power through bubble screens, he attacks and sheds well. In this next clip, Seattle aims to get Doug Baldwin in space, but Reid fights past the tight end and makes the tackle behind the line of scrimmage.
Where Reid still has room to grow is in his run defense. His move inside the box has him attacking from a different angle and he's still becoming accustom to his fit and positioning on run plays. The clip below shows one of the instances where he does a good job of setting the edge which keeps the running back inside. Earl Mitchell and Foster make a play to take him down, with Reid jumping in also. Watch the very end how Reid finishes the tackle to the ground. I love it!
Our next clip comes on a rub pattern from Seattle. Jimmy Graham is split wide to the bottom of the field. He runs a slant hoping to get a rub on Reid by the slot receiver. Reid however shoots past the wide receiver, while Witherspoon does a good job of getting out of Reid's way. Reid immediately attacks Graham as the ball arrives. Graham basically drops this one, but if he did catch it would've been a minimal gain because Reid was all over it.
Our next clips highlights Reid's speed to the ball. When it comes to chasing running backs and tight ends he's plenty fast. The Seahawks call a swing pass to try and out flank the 49ers defense. Reid is able to give chase and attack.
Our last clip highlights Reid's physical nature and reaction skills. Initially he's locked in coverage but when he sees Wilson taking off he shoves the receiver out of the way and makes a bee line for Wilson. He prevents any gain on the play with the takedown.
I like the combination of Adrian Colbert, Jaquiski Tartt, and Eric Reid. I can understand why Robert Saleh would want to get them all on the field. Eric Reid has been a consistent defender when healthy for the 49ers. Since Navarro Bowman was traded, Reid has become the defensive veteran leader on the squad. He's made over 30 tackles this season, and has also come down with two interceptions. As he continues to transition to this hybrid linebacker role I know his speed and aggressiveness will continue to be his calling card. This upcoming week I look forward to some big hits from Eric Reid and the 49ers young hard hitting defense. Go Niners!