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REID RETURNS

Rookie from LSU happy to back in Bayou

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REID RETURNS

49ers rookie safety Eric Reid (35) intercepts and returns a Carson Palmer pass 53 yards in the first quarter of the 49ers 32-20 win earlier this season over the Arizona Cardinals.

Photo by STU JOSSEY/


POSTED November 14, 2013 11:30 p.m.

SANTA CLARA (AP) — Back in April, Eric Reid held his breath for a moment waiting to hear whether the New Orleans Saints would draft him out of LSU.

They passed, and the standout safety wound up out West with the NFC champion San Francisco 49ers instead. It has been a great fit so far.

“Upset? Well, that’s just the way it is,” Reid said. “I did hold my breath for a little bit, I won’t lie, because that’s my hometown state. After that happened I was just looking for the next team to come around, and like I’ve always said, I couldn’t be more thankful for the 49ers picking me.”

Reid immediately emerged as a hard-hitting, playmaking rookie and has a team-best five takeaways for the 49ers (6-3). He sure hopes a second concussion won’t sideline him for Sunday’s game at the Superdome against Drew Brees and the Saints (7-2).

“I’ve been looking forward to this. That’s my home state,” Reid said. “I’ve been watching Drew Brees and those guys for a long time. This is part of my dream, to get to play in that stadium against Drew Brees and the Saints. Hopefully, I can do my part and get a win.”

Reid received 58 tickets for the game to accommodate all of the family and friends who want to see him play — a number larger than he expected but doable because many of his 49ers teammates didn’t ask for their usual ticket allotment.

Reid can’t imagine not playing in his Louisiana homecoming.

Yet it won’t be entirely his call. The Baton Rouge native, who turns 22 next month, sustained his second concussion of the season in last week’s 10-9 loss to Carolina when he went head first to tackle 245-pound Panthers fullback Mike Tolbert.

“It is a little surprising. I’ve never had a concussion before,” Reid said. “To get two in one season is a little bit different for me. That being said, this is the NFL. Guys are a little bit stronger, a little bit bigger than what I’m used to playing. I might have to adjust the way I’m playing a little bit.”

Coach Jim Harbaugh and defensive coordinator Vic Fangio will encourage Reid to make some slight changes to avoid further harm.

While Reid wants to remain his aggressive self and realizes how hard it is to change a playing style when decisions are made in split seconds, he will work to use more of his body and consider the size of the offensive player coming at him.

Both Reid and tight end Vernon Davis are expected to go through a contact practice today and be re-evaluated before flying to the Big Easy, where the 49ers lost 34-31 to the Baltimore Ravens in the Super Bowl nine months ago.

Brees, for one, knows what a game-changer Reid can be if he is on the field Sunday. “He’s been very impressive. He’s a big, physical guy who can really run. You can see him getting better each week,” Brees said.

San Francisco traded up in April’s draft to select Reid with the 18th overall pick, while the Saints went with safety Kenny Vaccaro out of Texas at No. 15. Not that the Saints didn’t think highly of Reid and his ability to make an immediate impact in the NFL.

He has three interceptions and a pair of fumble recoveries — and only Tennessee’s Alterraun Verner also has at least three picks and two recovered fumbles.

“We studied him very closely being that he played an hour up the road,” Saints coach Sean Payton said of Reid. “It’s someone we thought very highly of, had high grades on. You only get one pick. He’s someone who has transitioned very quickly into a very good safety. That’s not a surprise.”

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