Another week, another strong performance from a San Francisco 49ers rookie. Fifth round pick D.J. Reed had a huge kickoff return to open the second half, setting up a touchdown score that would prove key.
I see you @D7_Reed . Stayed tuned I’m doing some DJ Reed giveaways real soon. I talked to DJ a few nights ago we are working on a story after the season. If you want to know more about him check the story I posted on him last week. He’s explosive. #DJReed #KState #49ers pic.twitter.com/6AnxBwJtPH— 49er_Edits (@49er_edits) September 16, 2018
Reed returned the kickoff 101 yards to the house, but was flagged for a facemask penalty near the end. The penalty was at the 11 yard line, so the return was officially 90 yards. It was the 49ers longest kickoff return since Kyle Williams registered a 94-yard kickoff return on September 23, 2012 against the Minnesota Vikings.
Reed had four kick returns for 159 yards on the day. His other three returns were for 24, 22, and 25 yards. Those aren’t huge totals, but they got the 49ers out to or near the 25 yard line to start each drive. But the big return was enough to get him included on the Pro Football Focus’ team of the week for Week 2. It leaves Reed No. 2 in the NFL in kickoff return average.
Reed had been alternating with Trent Taylor on kick returns. Although that 90-yard return was just one kick return, it’s an area where Reed excelled in college. As a sophomore, he averaged 28.3 yards on nine kick returns. As a junior he averaged 34.2 yards on 17 kick returns. He has the skills to succeed as the returner, and hopefully he is the primary kick returner in Week 3.
Here’s what Reed had to say after the game.
You came up with a big play in the game with the return. Can you tell me a little bit about that play and at the end?
“I just want to shout out all of my teammates that were blocking for me. Everyone held their blocks. For me it was easy and anybody could have done what I did. My whole special teams unit did a good job blocking. [San Francisco 49ers special teams coordinator] coach [Richard] Hightower did a good job setting it up and calling the play up. I just want to send a shout out to everybody.”
It seemed like there were some missed opportunities last week. How do you think that this team has improved on executing and finishing?
“I think that we still have a long way to go. That was an ugly win, but I will take an ugly win over a pretty loss. We still have a long way to go as a team. We have so much potential. We just have to keep building. We are going to watch the film tomorrow and build off of that so we can be ready for next week.”
Like you said a W is a W; What kind of tone does that set for the season?
“Everybody in here loves winning, whether it is ugly or pretty. Whatever it is we won. We just want to obviously keep winning. That is one of our goals is to win. That is why we are here.”