San Francisco 49ers

Eric Reid picks Panthers over 49ers’ offer. His former team reflects on his NFL return

Eric Reid on social activism: ‘You gotta change with the times’

Free agent defensive back Eric Reid talks about how he will take a different approach to being socially active this season.
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Free agent defensive back Eric Reid talks about how he will take a different approach to being socially active this season.

Many NFL players believe Eric Reid’s decision to join Colin Kaepernick in protesting racial discrimination and police brutality is why he went so long without a job in the league.

In that sense, Richard Sherman, who’s been outspoken in favor of players protesting during the national anthem in the past, doesn’t believe Reid signing with the Carolina Panthers on Thursday is a big deal for the movement.

“A football team signing a good football player isn’t really a good landmark, in my opinion,” Sherman said. “Too little too late for it to be a landmark now.

“If someone had signed him in March, and gave him the deal that he deserved, then sure. That would have been incredible. But I think, at this point, it’s not a landmark of any kind. I’m thankful he got signed. I’m sure he’s happy to be on the field. But I don’t think it’s a landmark.”

Reid joined the Panthers on a one-year contract worth up to $1.9 million, according to an NFL Network report. The 49ers offered Reid a similar contract this week due to injuries in the secondary, but Reid chose Carolina instead.

“Any time you have an opportunity to add a good football player when the opportunity presents itself, obviously, E-Reid is familiar with our system and we know him, are comfortable with him,” 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh said Thursday. “Obviously, it didn’t work out, but any time you have the opportunity, you explore it.”

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It’s likely that Reid preferred the opportunity to start for the remainder of the season with the Panthers, while 49ers strong safety Jaquiski Tartt, who’s been dealing with a shoulder injury the last two weeks, isn’t expected to be sidelined for long. San Francisco free safety Adrian Colbert returned to practice Thursday after leaving the recent loss against the Chiefs with a hip injury.

Receiver Marquise Goodwin, who raises his right fist during the pre-game anthem, said he texted Reid as soon as he signed.

“Obviously I feel like he deserves a position in the NFL, regardless of where it is,” Goodwin said. “I’m happy for him to be able to play the game he loves again.”

Reid, of course, spent his first five seasons with the 49ers after being a first-round draft choice in 2013. He was widely considered among the league’s premier strong safeties since being named a Pro Bowl alternate during his first season. He made 10 interceptions, 36 pass breakups and 264 tackles with San Francisco.

While being away from football, Reid has worked with his foundation in his home state of Louisiana to help educate students in entrepreneurship and social justice, focusing on underrepresented and diverse communities. He’s also continued his charitable work with Kaepernick.

Chris Biderman of the Sacramento Bee highlights five players to watch in Sunday’s game when the 49ers travel to play the Los Angeles Chargers, September 30, 2018.

“I think it’s important to have Eric back in the league because he’s a great person, a great player,” Goodwin said. “Regardless of what the owners, anybody view him as, who may not know him or the condition of his heart. Me knowing him personally, I know how much he loves football, I know how much loves his family and I know how much he wants to do the right thing — and whatever he feels is right.”

Reid joined Kaepernick in filing a complaint against the NFL alleging collusion by the league’s owners for keeping them out of the league as the result of their controversial protest. That case remains ongoing. Reid had no known offers from any other team — though talks with the Bengals in the offseason were reportedly sullied when owner Mike Brown asked Reid if he planned on continuing his protest in 2018.

“I always knew that he would get signed,” said Sherman. “A lot (of) worse players are getting signed these days. They’re going to have a hard time explaining that, I’m sure.”

Good news for Breida Matt Breida, tied as the NFL’s leading rusher after three weeks, was elevated from limited to a full participant in Thursday’s practice, indicating he’ll play Sunday against the Chargers, barring a setback.

Breida hyperextended his right knee during the first half of the loss in Kansas City but returned in the second half.

Breida is averaging a robust 8.6 yards per carry (also No. 1 in the NFL) and could see his role increase with backup quarterback C.J. Beathard taking over the rest of the season for the injured Jimmy Garoppolo.

Morris pops up on injury report — Breida’s counterpart in the backfield, Alfred Morris, was limited in Thursday’s practice with a knee injury after not being listed on the injury report Wednesday. He was seen getting treatment for an ankle injury in the second half against the Chiefs, but returned.

Morris has eight more rushing attempts than Breida, though he’s averaging just 3.8 yards per carry. But he’s coming off a solid showing against the Chiefs, running for 67 yards and his first touchdown with the 49ers.

San Francisco enters Sunday with the league’s No. 2 ranked rushing attack, averaging 153 yards per game.

Colbert returns — Free safety Adrian Colbert was on the field Thursday for the first time since leaving the Kansas City game with a hip injury. He was listed as limited. Tartt spent Thursday in the weight room while he continues to work back from a shoulder injury suffered Week 2 against the Lions.

If Tartt can’t play, it’s likely Antone Exum Jr. makes a second straight start at strong safety. Exum logged nine tackles against the Chiefs, second most on the team, though he was flagged for a costly unnecessary roughness penalty during one of the Chiefs’ five touchdown drives in the first half.

Guard Mike Person (knee) was limited in Thursday’s practice after sitting out Wednesday. Receiver Marquise Goodwin (quad) was elevated from limited to full after returning from a one-game absence in Kansas City, making his first touchdown catch of the season. Guard Joshua Garnett missed practice again with a dislocated toe.