“Pummels receivers after the catch,” reads one scouting report on Eric Reid. “Lays the wood over the middle,” reads another.
And finally: “Plays with steam spurting from his ears. He might be the explosive hitter from the safety position in the 2013 draft.”
Reid’s aggressive style was a big reason the 49ers felt he could replace one of the NFL’s most vicious hitters, Dashon Goldson, in their starting lineup and why they traded up 13 spots to select him in the first round.
After two concussions in the first nine games, however, the rookie safety is discovering that going for the crushing blow isn’t always the best course, and he said Wednesday he will consider changing his approach.
“It is a little surprising,” Reid said. “I’ve never had a concussion before, and two in a season is a little bit different for me. But with that being said, this is the NFL. Guys are a little bit stronger, a little bit bigger than what I’m used to and I might have to adjust a little bit.”
Reid’s first concussion came in Week 2, when he went for a tackle on Seattle wide receiver Sidney Rice. Sunday against Carolina, he tried to take on 5-foot-9, 245-pound running back Mike Tolbert when the crown of Tolbert’s helmet caught Reid on the side of his. Reid said both blows were to roughly the same spot.
Reid, who was motionless after both hits, said he never lost consciousness. He said Wednesday he should have tried to go lower against Tolbert.
The Saints’ Kenny Vaccaro, another safety taken in the first round, also suffered his second concussion of the season on Sunday and said via social media that he wouldn’t play Sunday against the 49ers.
Reid said he isn’t considering sitting out and he’s eager to play against New Orleans.
He grew up 60 miles west of New Orleans, played at LSU, rooted for the Saints in the 2009 Super Bowl and said he’s been thinking about facing Saints quarterback Drew Brees for some time.
“This is part of my dream – to get to play in that stadium against Drew Brees and the Saints,” Reid said.
He admitted to being disappointed when the Saints, who had the 15th overall pick in the draft, took Vaccaro instead. The 49ers took Reid three picks later.
New Orleans coach Sean Payton said the Saints considered Reid but decided Vaccaro, who played safety and nickel cornerback at Texas, was a better fit for their defense.
“He was someone who did a lot of the things we were looking for,” Payton said of Vaccaro during a conference call. “I think most importantly, his versatility was something we valued.”
Like Vernon Davis, who also left Sunday’s game with a concussion, Reid must pass a series of cognitive tests and be cleared by 49ers doctors and an independent neurologist before being cleared to play this week. He and Davis have passed all their tests so far and both were on the practice field Wednesday in blue, no-contact jerseys.
Coach Jim Harbaugh said he would leave the question of whether Reid is ready or not in the hands of the experts.
“My tests?” said Harbaugh, a former quarterback. “I go back in the days of two fingers, three fingers, one finger. ‘How many fingers do I have up?’ It’s advanced so much further from that. So I think we’re on the right track in leaving it up to the doctors. Leave me out of it.”
Reid played the week after his concussion against the Seahawks. And he seemed intent on taking a similar path this week.
“This is my dream,” he said. “This is what I’ve been wanting to do for a long time. As long as I feel fine and the doctors tell me I can play, I’m going to play. Right now, it’s just a waiting game for me.”