The 49ers took a gamble.
And the Seattle Seahawks won -- big.
The 49ers decided to waive defensive back D.J. Reed at the beginning of training camp in August, one month after he sustained a torn pectoral that would sideline him for half of the regular season.
On Sunday, the 49ers will go up against Reed for a second time this season and be reminded of the player who got away.
“D.J. made us sick to lose,” 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan told the Seattle-area media on Wednesday.
Reed made his debut for the Seahawks in Week 8 against the 49ers. He made an immediate impact with an interception of Jimmy Garoppolo to contribute to the Seahawks’ 37-27 victory.
Seahawks coach Pete Carroll knew of Reed from the three times he played for the 49ers against Seattle. General manager John Schneider was well aware of Reed from the 2018 NFL Draft. The 49ers selected Reed in the fifth round with the No. 142 overall pick.
“John thought we really had something special in the kid, and recognized there was an opportunity to claim him, and so we went for him,” Carroll said.
Shanahan said the 49ers felt as if they could not keep Reed because of all the players they already had who were targeted for the physically-unable-to-perform list at the opening of training camp.
“We had an unprecedented number of guys at that time who were on PUP," Shanahan said. "We couldn’t have more with the roster rules and how many we had to have down. We didn’t know if he was going to be able to come back during the year from it. There were a lot of decisions that went into it.
“We were hoping we wouldn’t lose him. Obviously, Seattle took him, and they got a great player because of it. He’s a guy I really like a lot, as a person and a player. That’s something I wish we could have had back.”
Reed was an ultra-versatile member of the 49ers’ defensive backfield with his ability to play nickel, cornerback and safety. But he never worked his way into a full-time starting role.
It did not take him long to win a starting job with the Seahawks. His most recent role is as the team's starting right cornerback.
"He immediately showed his stuff,” Carroll said. “We hoped he’d be a nickel and maybe a safety or a corner. We weren’t sure. We’d seen him play those spots, but we weren’t sure how he’d fit.
“But as soon as we got him on the field, we just loved the guy and his natural instincts and his super-good quickness. Just his style and awareness was really obvious, so he jumped right in. He played nickel and played well. We moved him to corner because we needed to, and he played well, and he’s held onto his job.”
Reed has produced with his new team.
He registered 81 tackles, eight passes defensed and two interceptions in his nine games with the playoff-bound Seahawks, who clinched the NFC West title last week.