The 49ers will play their final six games without safety Eric Reid, who tore his right biceps tendon as the Patriots tried to run out the clock late in Sunday’s game. Reid will have surgery and go on injured reserve.
Reid, 24, was hurt while trying to tackle 250-pound running back LeGarrette Blount at the San Francisco 11-yard line. The 49ers trailed by 13 points at the time with 1:36 to play. Asked why he continued to call timeouts – and thus prevent the Patriots from kneeling and running out the clock – 49ers coach Chip Kelly said it still was possible to score a touchdown, recover the ball with an onside kick, then score another touchdown.
New England had a first down and was in range of a short field goal when Kelly began using his three timeouts, the first of which preceded Reid’s injury.
“I think they missed 12 extra points yesterday in the National Football League,” he noted. “It was a rainy day. So we’re not going to quit.”
Reid was a first-round draft pick in 2013. The 49ers picked up the fifth-year option on his contract, meaning he is signed through the 2017 season.
Reid has been a prominent part of what’s happened on the 49ers’ sideline this season. When quarterback Colin Kaepernick began his now well-known national anthem protest, he did so by sitting on the bench by himself. Reid tried to find a more palatable way to express their concern for how minorities are treated and consulted former Army Green Beret Nate Boyer and coming up with a plan to kneel during the anthem. Reid and Kaepernick did that before the team’s preseason finale in San Diego, and linebacker Eli Harold has joined them in their pregame protest since then.
On the field, the 49ers have used Reid in an array of positions, including as a nickel defender along the line of scrimmage. He has logged more snaps than anyone on the team and is second – to fellow safety Antoine Bethea – in tackles with 62.
Second-year player Jaquiski Tartt will fill in for the last six weeks. Marcus Cromartie also can play the position, and another safety, Vinnie Sunseri, is on the practice squad. Onetime safety Jimmie Ward has been playing cornerback this season. He suffered a concussion during the Patriots game and must be cleared before returning to practice.
Reid is the 10th 49er and seventh on defense to be lost to injury this year.