Eric Reid

49ers Mailbag: Should Shanahan give up play-calling?

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49ers Mailbag: Should Shanahan give up play-calling?

Believe it or not, the 49ers’ offense is improved from last season.

The 49ers ranked 31st in the NFL in 2016, averaging 308.1 yards per game. Although the offense is producing just a little better (325.9 yards per game), their ranking this season has shot up to 21st in the league.

The 49ers have had a different head coach and different person running the offense in each of the past four seasons, so their continuity has been severely lacking.

Next season, the 49ers should finally have carryover from one season to the next.

The direction of the offense is one of the topics addressed on this edition of 49ers Mailbag (questions were submitted via Facebook):

Now that we have Jimmy G do you see 49ers getting an offensive coordinator or will it still be Kyle calling the plays? (Julio Orozco)
I'm not sure why the arrival of Jimmy Garoppolo would have any impact on the 49ers’ offensive structure, but in any event, the answer is a resounding, “No.”

Kyle Shanahan has been hailed as one of the best offensive coordinators in the NFL. The reason he was hired as 49ers head coach was, in large part, because of the success he achieved while designing offenses and calling plays.

Why would he give that up? It makes no sense.

Rob Demovsky of ESPN this week identified the 32 primary play-callers. There are 18 NFL head coaches with offensive backgrounds. Twelve of those coaches call their own plays.

Shanahan has a staff of assistant coaches on whom he leans. Passing game specialist Mike LaFleur and quarterbacks coach Rich Scangarello are closely involved in working with Shanahan on the passing game, while running game specialist Mike McDaniel, offensive line coach John Benton and running backs coach Bobby Turner spearhead the involvement in the ground game.

But, make no mistake, it is Shanahan who calls the shots. And that's the way it should be. If Shanahan stepped aside as his own offensive coordinator, he would be diminishing his biggest strength as a coach.

What do you see happing with the Hyde situation? We drafted Joe Williams and Breida seems to be a bright spot. There’s a lot of talk about Barkley from Penn State with that high 1st rounder. (Manny Hinojos)
There does not seem to be any movement toward a long-term extension for Hyde. It is getting to the point in the season where it makes a lot more sense for Hyde to play out his contract and hit the open market.

There is no question in my mind the 49ers like Hyde a lot. He has scored some major points with the organization for his performance on the field and how he has responded off the field.

GM John Lynch loved it when Hyde came to the defense of quarterback C.J. Beathard, tussled with Arizona lineman Frostee Rucker and got ejected from the game.

That said, the 49ers are not going to break the bank for Hyde. A multi-year agreement has to come at the right price. My personal feeling is that running backs are luxury pieces when the remainder of a team’s roster -- especially the offensive line -- is set.

Shanahan and his father, Mike Shanahan, and Turner (the assistant coach who served on both of their staffs) have achieved a lot of success without investing heavily in running backs. That’s why I think the 49ers would be best-served by investing elsewhere and using another mid-round draft pick on a running back.

With Joshua Garnett coming back next season how aggressive will Lynch and Shanahan be in trying to get guards this offseason? (David Hartless)
Garnett is not a particularly good fit for this offensive scheme. The presence of Garnett can help increase the competition next offseason, but I do not believe he is being penciled in as a starter.

The 49ers will certainly be aggressive in an attempt to upgrade the guard positions. Currently, Laken Tomlinson and Brandon Fusco are the starters. Neither will be assured a starting job when the offseason begins.

The 49ers did not see enough from Garnett to determine he has a future with the organization, but he will be given the opportunity to come back healthy and prove himself.

Is Eric Reid in long-term plans? (Grant Rasmussen)
I do not believe so. I think the 49ers would like their starting safeties next season to be Jimmie Ward and Jaquiski Tartt – with Adrian Colbert as the front-runner for the No. 3 job.

The 49ers can also be expected to add a player or two in free agency, as well as the draft, to provide a competitive environment in the offseason. The 49ers seemed to telegraph their intention with Reid when they moved him to linebacker with Ward and Tartt remaining as the starting safeties.

That position change lasted about a week, as Ward’s injury prompted the team to move Reid back to safety. Reid is scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season. It's entirely possible there will not be a big market for him, but I do not believe the 49ers are going to be ultra-competitive in retaining him on the open market.

The need to share NFL's social injustice meeting with the world at large is acute

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The need to share NFL's social injustice meeting with the world at large is acute

Bad news, everybody. Next week’s NFL players-owners meeting about the employees’ right to protest social injustice will not be presented on the NFL Network, or anywhere else for that matter.

But it should be. Desperately so. It will help explain, with a backdrop of brightly colored logos that seem to mesmerize people so, just how deep the American cultural divide really is, and because it be attached to football, there is a slightly better chance that the younger demographic the NFL seems to be losing might take an actual interest.

As thoughtfully explained by ESPN’s Don Van Natta and Seth Wickersham, the NFL’s 32 billionaires are torn over the same issues-versus-optics argument that the rest of the country is. Hardliners like Jerry Jones and Dan Snyder want the players to be forcibly knuckled under because the league’s bottom line is endangered, while moderates like Jed York and Jeff Lurie want to be more responsive to the players’ larger needs, understanding that the anthem isn’t the issue here.

It is 21st century America in a nutshell – failing to agree on definitions of words and actions as the opening act in a fight over who gets to tell what to whom.

And the reason this needs airing is so America can see what it is becoming, how the window toward finding common ground is closing if not already latched, and the level of the damage that awaits us all if we do not get to a place where the simple act of listening is no longer considered a sign of cowardice. And there is no guarantee that this meeting won’t blow up on that very issue, thus further mirroring the nation. This could turn into another authoritarian disaster that will inspire President Trump to tweets new holes in the S.S. Football and separate the nation’s right wing from the game it has always supported.

But maybe seeing famous people fight about it will also show the audience, which is now irredeemably hooked on absurdities like celebrity and optics, how bad this really is. Maybe Las Vegas could put betting lines on it to bring in the gamblers. It’s a natural for fantasy players.

See? We’ve already ruined it by turning it into another contemptible marketing opportunity. We may no longer be ready for serious open discussion on anything here because we have become too adept at grafting our profit-taking and power-making agendas onto everything.

But we’re running out of time for mere rational and temperate discourse, so the need to share this meeting with the world at large is acute. If nothing else, this meeting could show us just how close to hell we really are.

49ers move Reid to linebacker, noncommittal about his future

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49ers move Reid to linebacker, noncommittal about his future

SANTA CLARA – Eric Reid sought an answer about his future with the 49ers.

But the 49ers did not tell him what he wanted to hear.

The 49ers need to see how things turn out over the final nine games of the season to figure out the organization’s preferred path for 2018 and beyond.

Reid, who started every game he appeared through his first four seasons at safety, is now a linebacker. Jaquiski Tartt is the 49ers’ present and, more than likely, future strong safety.

“By no means is anything final,” 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said during a sit-down interview Thursday for “49ers Game Plan,” which airs Saturday at 7:30 p.m. on NBC Bay Area.

“Eric has played in 2 ½ games for us this year. Tartt has played well in the games he’s played. We got a number of games left. I’m trying to figure out what our guys are, and what’s going to help our team the most and what we’re going to do, going forward. We don’t have all those answers, yet.”

The 49ers moved Reid to a role as a linebacker in passing situations last week against the Dallas Cowboys. This week, he moved full-time into his new position – a decision based on putting the team’s best 11 players on the field as well as adapting to the demands of defending a new breed of running backs and tight ends.

The 49ers face the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday, and Reid will likely see more action while making a contribution when it comes covering tight end Zach Ertz, who leads the team with 39 catches for 494 yards and five touchdowns.

“He’s taken a huge step forward this week, his second week at it and being more comfortable, knowing what to expect in games I’m excited to see him out there on Sunday,” Shanahan said of Reid.

The 49ers see Reid’s transition as a logical move for a team with two other starting-caliber safeties. The team also has a need at linebacker after losing Malcolm Smith to a season-ending pectoral injury in training camp and granting veteran NaVorro Bowman his release two weeks ago.

“What Eric Reid has done as a safety is unquestioned,” 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh said. “He is one of the better safeties in all of football. Tartt is a very good safety. Jimmie Ward is a very good safety. Eric Reid being a very physical player that he is, and being one of our smartest players, we as an organization felt like it wouldn’t be an issue for him to move a couple yards closer than he already was.”

As Reid was returning from a knee injury that kept him sidelined for three games he said he fully expected to regain his starting role upon his return. That did not happen. He is scheduled to be a free agent in March, and it goes to reason his spot in the 49ers’ defense for the remainder of this season will have a major impact on his value as a free agent.

“I asked them explicitly, ‘Can you at least tell me if I’m going to be here next year to play this position?’ ” Reid said. “They told me, ‘No.’ Coach Saleh said he doesn’t make those decisions. Right now, I just trust that the film I have at safety is good enough for me to enter free agency with and just get some film at linebacker as well.”

Reid’s move is not unprecedented. At nearly 220 pounds, he compares favorably to other similarly sized linebackers who have excelled for their teams, such as Telvin Smith (Jacksonville), Deone Bucannon (Arizona) and Mark Barron (Los Angeles Rams).

”Eric Reid has been put in a linebacker position, not because he can’t play safety,” Shanahan said. “We know he can play safety. It’s because we’re in a situation where we think it could possibly improve our team. That’s what we’re trying to find out now. I think it’s a win-win for him and if he plays at the level he’s capable of it’ll be a win-win for the Niners.”

Reid’s future with the 49ers likely hinges on how he adapts.

Saleh said he would not be surprised if Reid earns the full-time role in the starting lineup at some point soon, as the 49ers seek an upgrade from the inconsistencies of Ray-Ray Armstrong at the weakside linebacker position.

But the 49ers likely already have their starters for next season, with Malcolm Smith expected to return at full strength to pair with middle linebacker Reuben Foster.