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49ers top pick Eric Reid getting physical from the start

  • Denver Broncos wide receiver Kemonte' Bateman, right, carries the ball as San Francisco 49ers safety Eric Reid, left, looks on during the third quarter of an NFL preseason football game Thursday, Aug. 8, 2013, in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

SANTA CLARA — The Denver Broncos' Virgil Green had just caught the ball when — whammo! — Eric Reid's left shoulder sent Green barreling toward the 49ers' sideline.

Kemonte' Bateman had just crossed into the 49ers' red zone when — pow! — Reed upended Bateman and drove him into the Candlestick Park sod.

Not a bad opening night for Reid, the 49ers' first-round draft pick who debuted in Thursday's 10-6, exhibition-opening loss to Denver.

"He's somebody to highlight," coach Jim Harbaugh said.

Reid is the presumptive successor at free safety after Dashon Goldson's free-agent departure to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Goldson provided more of a physical presence than ball-hawking skills to the 49ers' defense. What do the 49ers want out of Reid?

"Coach said he's looking for a physical safety," Reid said. "That's something I think I can bring to the scene. At the end of the day, I'm just trying to do whatever I can to help."

Defensive coordinator Vic Fangio and secondary coach Ed Donatell indeed got the physical style they wanted from Reid. But the 18th overall draft pick will need more of the same to win the starting spot next to Donte Whitner. Reid played in two-thirds of the defensive plays, and his 44 snaps were more than any of the other candidates at free safety. Craig Dahl started and played 12 defensive snaps, Trenton Robinson had 37 snaps and C.J. Spillman 23.

Harbaugh commended all the safeties on their efforts. Reid's two hits, however, made teammates notice, prompting some to tease him in search of even bigger hits.

"Ahmad (Brooks) said I needed to get in the weight room and I should have hit (Bateman) harder," Reid said. "I feel it was a good, safe, legal hit. So I was happy."

Reid did wish he wrapped up better on one of his six tackles, which were the 49ers' most behind Michael Wilhoite's 10.

"It was awesome. It's been my dream since I was a kid to play in the NFL," Reid said of his 49ers debut. "To be out here with these guys on such a great team, it's a blessing and I couldn't be happier."


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