SANTA CLARA — Safety Eric Reid said Friday he’ll head into free agency well aware that his anthem protest could affect his value on the open market.
Reid has knelt during every national anthem ceremony this season, continuing the protest quarterback Colin Kaepernick began in 2016 to raise awareness about racial inequity, especially instances of police brutality in minority communities. Kaepernick became a free agent last year and no team signed him to a contract or even invited him for a workout.
Reid has been in close contact with Kaepernick, who now lives in New York, throughout the year and at one point was one of the player representatives who discussed anthem and social justice matters with NFL owners.
“I wouldn’t use the word ‘concerned.’ I’d say I understand that that’s a possibility,” Reid said Friday when asked if he’s worried the protests would diminish his free-agent value. “And I’m completely fine with that. The things that I’ve done, I stand by. And I’ve done that for my own personal beliefs. Like I said I’m fine with whatever outcome comes because of that.”
Reid was a first-round pick in 2013 who seemed to find his ideal spot this year at strong safety in the 49ers’ Seattle Seahawks-like defense. However, when Reid returned to the lineup in October after missing three games with a knee injury, his starting position had been taken over by Jaquiski Tartt, suggesting that the team has earmarked Tartt for strong safety next year. Reid returned to the starting lineup at strong safety after Jimmie Ward was lost for the season with a broken arm and Tartt began playing free safety.
Based on his play alone, Reid should have plenty of suitors. He turned 26 this month and several other teams use the same defense the 49ers employed this year. He has experience at both free safety and strong safety and has played under four different defensive coordinators. He even lined up at inside linebacker at times this season.
Kyle Shanahan said he hasn’t spoken to any of the team’s soon-to-be free agents and that that process likely would begin on Monday. The 49ers have signed only one player, nickel cornerback K’Waun Williams, to a contract extension during the season.
Reid said he’s concentrating on Sunday’s finale in Los Angeles but that he’s open to coming back.
“It’s been fun. It’s been fun to win,” he said of the 2017 season. “We haven’t been doing that for a while, so finally getting some wins on the record just makes coming to work even better.”