Eric Reid on social activism: ‘You gotta change with the times’
Free agent safety Eric Reid on Thursday said his agent has been in contact with "a couple" of NFL teams but that there are no deals imminent and no visits planned as the second week of free agency draws to a close.
Reid spoke to reporters after watching his younger brother, Stanford safety Justin Reid, work out in front of NFL evaluators, including 49ers general manager John Lynch and vice president of player personnel Adam Peters, at the school's pro day.
League observers are keeping a close eye on Eric Reid's foray into free agency. The market for safeties has lagged behind other positions such as cornerback and wide receiver, the best of which were quickly snapped up last week. There also has been speculation, including from Reid, that like quarterback Colin Kaepernick a year ago, his tepid market is tied to his association with the protests that occurred during the national anthem.
Reid said that while he will continue to be active in raising awareness about social issues such as excessive use of force by police, he likely will not continue to protest during the anthem in 2018.
"We understand that you’ve got to change with the times," Reid said of him and Kaepernick. "I'm not going to say I'm going to stop being active because I won't. I'm just going to consider different ways to be active, different ways to bring awareness to the issues of this country, to improve the issues happening in this country."
"I don't think it will be in the form of protesting during the anthem," he said. "And I say 'during' because it's crazy that the narrative got changed to that we were protesting the anthem. That wasn't the case. But I think we're going to take a different approach to how to be active."
Last year Kaepernick made it be known – through proxies – that he planned to stand during the anthem as well. Still, he never received as much as a tryout during he season even though a number of teams, including the Seahawks, Ravens and Texans, were in need of a quarterback at some point in the year.
Reid, too, went into the 2017 season planning to stand alongside teammates. Racial upheaval in Charlottesville, Va., and President Donald Trump's reaction to that violence, however, prompted him to change his stance, and he knelt during the anthem ceremony for all 16 games.
Justin Reid, meanwhile, could be drafted as early as the first round next month. He said he would not protest during the anthem and that the issue has not been brought up by any of the NFL teams he has met with so far.
"We each have our own beliefs," Justin said of he and his brother. "And he felt that that's what he needed to do. I have my own ways that I feel I'm going to go about it. I'm not as vocal in that situation. I don't really like drama, to be honest with you. I don't want to deal with all of that."
As for Eric Reid rejoining the 49ers, Lynch said the team was monitoring Reid's situation and that he "would never say never" to the prospect of bringing the safety back. But he said despite the delayed start, he thought Reid would wind up with another team.
"I think he's kind of stuck in a safety market that's been quiet," Lynch said. "I would anticipate things starting to shake (out) for him. We'll see."
The 49ers have three young safeties they like in Jimmie Ward, Jaquiski Tartt and Adrian Colbert. If Reid were to return, it's unlikely he would begin the season as a starter.
Asked about a return, Reid said, "That's not the decision I would make; they'd have to offer me a contract, which they haven't. We'll see what happens."
Et cetera – The 49ers on Thursday met with free agent cornerback LaDarius Gunter, who played for the Packers and Panthers last season. The team is considering adding him or another free agent defensive back, Jaylen Watkins, who also visited this week.
▪ Justin Reid said he had six pre-draft visits scheduled, with the Seahawks, Lions, Vikings, Eagles, Steelers and Panthers.
▪ The Stanford player the 49ers are most likely to draft? It might be cornerback Quenton Meeks, who measured 6-1, 209 pounds and who ran a 4.50-second 40-yard dash Thursday.