SANTA CLARA – The 49ers have plenty of cap space, and Eric Reid’s non-guaranteed salary for next season is not exorbitant for a starting safety.
But did Reid show enough in 10 games in his abbreviated fourth season with the 49ers to earn his $5.676 million salary next year?
“I think Eric’s had a really good year,” 49ers coach Chip Kelly said on Wednesday. “I don’t grade him on contracts or what he’s been offered or options or all that other stuff. That’s above me. But I think for what we’re doing defensively and the scheme we run, I think he’s had a really good year. It’s a big blow to us to not have him for these last couple games this season.”
Reid underwent season-ending surgery on Tuesday to repair a torn right biceps that he sustained late in the 49ers’ 30-17 loss to the New England Patriots on Sunday at Levi’s Stadium.
Reid played a lot of different roles for the 49ers this season, as the defense looked to find a way to compensate for the loss of linebackers NaVorro Bowman and Ray-Ray Armstrong. Without Bowman and Armstrong, the 49ers did not have another linebacker to plug into the action who could adequately handle coverage responsibilities.
“He has the ability to play down on slot receivers,” Kelly said of Reid. “He can play the middle of the field because he has great range and vision. He’s big enough and physical enough to match up with tight ends because of his size. We’ve used him as a dime linebacker.”
Reid, whom the 49ers chose with the No. 18 overall pick in the 2013 draft, is completing his original four-year, $8.48 million. The 49ers picked up the fifth-year option in the offseason but can release him before the opening of the new league year in March to avoid paying his 2017 salary.
Reid recorded seven interceptions in his first two NFL seasons. He has one interception this season after getting blanked in 2015. Reid ranks second on the team behind veteran safety Antoine Bethea in tackles this season.
There are 25 safeties in the NFL who average $5 million or more in average salary. Bethea is scheduled to make $5.75 million in pay next season for the 49ers.