METAIRIE, La. — Eric Reid was a big part of LSU’s success for three seasons, helping guide the Tigers to a 34-6 record and a spot in the BCS championship game following the 2011 season.
Now he’s with San Francisco, taken with the 18th overall pick in April’s NFL draft.
And he’s once again helping a team’s defense be one of the best around.
Not that his teammates are surprised.
“He has performed extremely well,” linebacker Patrick Willis said. “It’s one of those things that you can’t say he is doing better than you thought because we drafted him in the first round. When you draft someone in the first round you count on them to come in and be able to play right away and help your defense and he certainly has done that for us. He’s been a tremendous blessing on the defensive side of the ball.”
Before training camp even ended, Reid had earned a spot starting for the one of the NFL’s most consistently tough defenses. He has repaid the coaching staff’s confidence with three interceptions, six passes defensed and one fumble recovery. He’s fifth on the team with 37 combined tackles.
When asked what the 49ers liked about Reid that made him their selection in the first round, Coach Jim Harbaugh lit into a list of reasons why, including his toughness and smarts.
“He is very athletic, good size, good speed, obtains information, makes a mistake and learns from it,” Harbaugh said. “Most of all, he shows up, works hard and he listens, great quality to have as a football player. I’ve been really pleased with his play, his progress and I like being around him every day.”
With Reid in the back end of San Francisco’s defense along with Donte Whitner, the 49ers have remained one of the stingiest through the air in the NFL. The 49ers rank ninth against the pass (211.7) and sixth when calculating yards per pass play (5.92). San Francisco is top half of the league when calculating interception rate, too.
And part of that is Reid and the presence he fills since taking over for Dashon Goldson, who left San Francisco in free agency.
“Yeah I have seen a lot of him,” Saints quarterback Drew Brees said of Reid. “He’s a very talented player. He’s big, fast, physical. He fits well into that defense.”
According to the analytics website Pro Football Focus, Reid ranks as the 11th-best safety in the NFL for those players who have seen at least half of the team’s defensive snaps. Quarterback have just a 47.6 rating when throwing against Reid in coverage.