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49ers' Harbaugh gets his man, finally

The SportsXchange

As expected, the San Francisco 49ers began the 2013 NFL Draft by swapping some of their original allotment of 13 picks to move into position to get a safety Thursday night.

They did not take the safety many predicted, but they got one coach Jim Harbaugh wanted years ago.

The 49ers traded their 31st and 74th overall picks to the Dallas Cowboys to move into the 18th spot and used it to take LSU safety Eric Reid. Texas safety Kenny Vaccaro had been tied to the 49ers in recent weeks, but he was already taken No. 15 by the New Orleans Saints.

But Reid is no stranger to Harbaugh, who recruited him hard at Stanford, but lost out to LSU.

"We were joking about (him recruiting me) at the (Scouting) Combine," Reid said. "He recruited me hard out of high school, but I was an in-state guy, so I was going to LSU. The story comes full circle that he drafted me."

For the 49ers, who lost to the Baltimore Ravens in the Super Bowl, safety was a position of need after losing Dashon Goldson in free agency to Tampa Bay, where he was paid $41.25 million and will play in the same secondary as cornerback Darrelle Revis.

"They lost a great safety and I think they're getting a pretty good guy as well," Reid said. "I'm a rookie, so I'm going to come in and learn from the veteran guys on the defense who have been there and know what it takes to get to the Super Bowl."

The 49ers picked up free agent safety Craig Dahl (Rams), but wanted to bring in more competition for the starting job.

In defensive coordinator Vic Fangio's scheme, Reid will likely be called upon to play varying roles in the spot next to Donte Whitner - provided he can beat out Dahl. That's fine with Reid, who performed much of the same role at LSU.

"Our safeties were interchangeable so one play I might be in the slot, one play I might be in the post, one play I might be covering the tight end," Reid said. "It's something I'm very capable of doing."

Reid, the son of a former three-time All-American (1984-87) sprinter for LSU with the same name, signed with the Tigers as a highly regarded prep prospect and immediately made an impact, playing in all 13 games and earning starts in the final three regular-season contests.

He posted 32 tackles, including a tackle for loss and demonstrated the ability to make big plays in big games immediately, snaring his two interceptions against the likes of Ryan Mallett (Arkansas) and Ryan Tannehill (Texas A&M) in the Cotton Bowl.

Reid was even more dynamic in his second season as LSU's starting free safety, tying Tyrann (Honey Badger) Mathieu with the team lead in tackles (76), including 53 solo stops. He also registered two tackles for loss, two forced fumbles (one recovered) and two interceptions (Tennessee, Alabama). Reid's interception against Alabama came at the 1-yard line in the fourth quarter, preserving the 6-6 tie that eventually led to LSU's overtime victory.

Reid was named to the First Team All-SEC team in 2012, but wasn't as flashy in what turned out to be his final season in Baton Rouge. He collected 91 tackles, seven pass breakups and two interceptions on the season.

Reid, rated by NFLDraftScout.com as the No. 2 safety behind Vaccaro, brings a combination of coverage and hitting ability that teams seek in a safety. The 6-foot-1, 213-pounder was timed in 4.42 seconds for 40 yards, went 40.5 inches in the vertical jump and benched 225 pounds 17 times.

Reid wasn't just an on-field sensation, he was also twice named to the SEC Academic Honor roll.

After that trade and their first pick, the 49ers were left with 11 selections -- Nos. 34 61, 93, 128, 131, 157, 173, 180, 237, 246 and 252.
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