San Francisco 49ers rookie Eric Reid is in the midst of a competition for the starting free safety position with C.J. Spillman and free agent acquisition Craig Dahl. During the team’s most recent OTAs, Reid got the opportunity not only to compete, but to prepare for the time when he is in complete charge of the 49er secondary. He was able to practice that role on the days when strong safety Donte Whitner was absent from the team’s activities.
“They expect me to make more calls, but it goes back to studying my plays every day,” Reid said. “That’s realistic because in this game somebody can get hurt and you never know when it’s going to happen. If he’s not in, it’s my turn to step up and make some calls.”
The 49ers hope Reid is a quick study and can show he is ready for the starting role right away. The Niners targeted Reid, the top safety on their draft board, and moved up 13 spots in the first round to select the former LSU product. Reid is learning both the free safety and strong safety positions.
“Technically, I’m at free (safety), but depending on motion or the change in strength of the offense, your responsibility could change to strong,” Reid said. “The safeties have to know both positions.”
Having Reid prepared to play both safety positions will also give the 49ers more flexibility moving forward. Whitner will be a free agent after the 2013 season and there is no guarantee he’ll be back. Having the option to move Reid to strong safety gives the 49ers more alternatives in free agency and the draft should they choose not to re-sign Whitner.
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