COMMENTARY | According to head coach Jim Harbaugh, the San Francisco 49ers got the player they had wanted all along. While that may or may not be the case, the team's reported preferred move was to trade up for a defensive lineman in the early teens on Thursday, and that never came to fruition.
Eric Reid will fit in nicely in San Francisco, though. The 49ers wanted a safety they could plug into the defense right away, after the loss of Dashon Goldson earlier this offseason. They planned to address that need at some point this draft, but maybe not as early as No. 18. However, they got a player that has the capability of starting right away, although the 49ers will presumably have him compete with Craig Dahl in training camp. A rookie capable of starting is hard to find in this year's NFL draft -- a draft built on depth, not superstars.
As mentioned, several reports had the 49ers eyeing a pick in the early teens to trade up to, and defensive linemen such as Sheldon Richardson and Star Lotulelei were widely regarded as the team's main target. A stretch during the midway point of Thursday's opening round nixed that draft strategy, as Richardson, Lotulelei and Kenny Vaccaro were drafted No. 13, No. 14 and No. 15 respectively.
Whether or not the 49ers had the opportunity, or were just unable to find a trade partner in that part of the draft, is unknown.
The 49ers were obviously high on Reid, who is now well documented as being recruited by Harbaugh at Stanford, but chose to attend LSU and become a two-time All-American. Reid is also smart off the field, receiving academic honors in the SEC last season, an asset the 49ers have typically preferred in past drafts over players with large amounts of talent but without high character.
Maybe most overlooked about Reid is that he was the team captain for one of the top secondaries in the country and has played in multiple big games, including the 2012 BCS National Championship game, where he had a career-high 11 total tackles against Alabama.
What has not been mentioned, or given ample credit to, is the draft picks it took to land Reid. The 49ers gave up the No. 31 overall pick in the first round and a third round pick that was acquired in a trade with the Carolina Panthers last season.
San Francisco got their supposed man in the first round, filled their need at safety and will now begin to build depth and add even more options in the second round. The 49ers will have selections at No. 34 and No. 61 on Friday, two picks that are expected bring forth picks at backup tight end, cornerback or defensive line.
Amidst the selection of a safety in the draft was the rather large priority of the drafted player complementing fellow safety Donte Whitner, and Reid fits that bill almost perfectly. Reid's size (6'2" and 213 lbs.) and speed will be a great addition to Whitner's big-hit ability, which Reid can also supply at times. The fact Reid can cover tight ends with his size is only a plus.
In the long run, Reid will make the 49ers' secondary more well rounded by providing a player that specializes in cover. It was something Goldson was unable to provide consistently, and an asset Reid will almost exclusively feature as he begins his career in the NFL.
The options are clearly there for the 49ers during the rest of this draft. San Francisco was able to kill two birds with one stone by selecting who they believe was their guy in this draft and filling the rather crucial vacancy at starting safety alongside Whitner.
Scott Semmler is a senior at San Jose State University fortunate enough to have covered nearly every Bay Area professional sports team, including the San Francisco Giants' 2012 World Series title. Follow him on Twitter @ScottSemmler22.
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