San Francisco 49ers: 5 Players Facing a Make-or-Break Season in 2016
By Peter Panacy
No. 4: Safety Eric Reid
Veteran safety Antoine Bethea may not be surprising, but fellow defensive back Eric Reid is.
The 49ers picked up Reid’s fifth-year option earlier this month, which is worth $5.676 million and will be fully guaranteed if he’s on the roster at the official start of the NFL’s 2017 season. So that all but assures he’ll be on the roster for 2016.
But we’ve already established the Niners aren’t all that concerned with cap space next year. And we have to assess the fact Reid wasn’t exactly his Pro Bowl-caliber self under former defensive coordinator Eric Mangini a year ago.
Reid posted a minus-0.1 overall grade, according to Pro Football Focus, which isn’t horrible. But he had his stretches of poor play reflected during the first half of the year.
Maybe Mangini simplifying the defense in the second half helped, but it’s reasonable to assume Reid will want to bounce back strong this season.
Why He Stays
Reid won’t be going anywhere in 2016. But there’s a new defensive scheme coming to Santa Clara, in the form of defensive coordinator Jim O’Neil’s approach, and it’s entirely possible he thrives in whatever game plan is implemented.
Reid is young but has already cemented himself as a leader within the secondary. And we can’t forget how he made the Pro Bowl his rookie season back in 2013.
Why He Goes
We can’t overlook concussion issues here. And, just like Bethea, the influx of young defensive backs over the past two years could put Reid’s future in question.
It’s entirely possible we see a safety tandem comprised of defensive backs Jaquiski Tartt and Jimmie Ward in 2017, which would mean Reid would be shown the door.
Next: No. 3: Wide Receiver Quinton Patton