Vic Fangio names Eric Reid the 49ers’ starting free safety

SANTA CLARA – Vic Fangio spoke in the media tent Tuesday afternoon. Here’s what he said.

FANGIO: I just want to let you guys know we’re going to miss Parys (Haralson) here. I want to laud his career here and his stay here. He was a great teammate, a great friend of the organization, a really good player and we’re all happy for him that he’s going to be able to go somewhere else and get more playing time.

The other thing I want to say is I was sitting in the box the other night waiting for the game to start. I was looking at the Ring of Honor that’s up at Candlestick. I was looking at all of the names there and I think there’s a name missing they need up there at some point, and that’s Tom Rathman. I coached against him every year he played in the league. I was in the division with him, so I coached against him twice a year and I know what a hell of a football player he was. And now working with him for the past three years I know what a great coach he is. He’s had a tremendous impact on this organization for over 20 years. Someday his name needs to be up there.

Q: Now that Haralson is gone, what do you like about the backup linebackers?

FANGIO: We picked up Dan (Skuta) in the offseason and he’s done a good job of picking up the defense. He’s a very similar player to Parys. I think you’ll see a lot of similarities between those two guys when they play. Corey we drafted in the third round. He’s got good athletic ability. He’s got good speed. He’s been doing a nice job picking up the defense as a transition, which is always hard. He was a defensive end in college and I think he’s done well, about as well as many guys that have been put in that position that I’ve seen.

And then Cam Johnson, who was our seventh round pick the year before. Cam’s a whole lot better player this year than he was last year. He’s made tremendous strides physically, mentally and emotionally. He’s light years ahead of where he was last year at this time.

Q: Is Lemonier the No.3 OLB? Would he be the first one to come in if Aldon Smith or Ahmad Brooks goes out?

FANGIO: No, not necessarily. It would be more by situation. Maybe one guy would play in the base package and one guy would play in the sub package. I don’t think it would be one guy pulling full time duty.

Q: Is Eric Reid your starter at free safety?

FANGIO: Yes.

Q: For the season?

FANGIO: Yes.

Q: What has he shown you since he’s been here to nail that down?

FANGIO: Steady progress. He’s gotten better and better each and every day. He’s had mistakes here and there, but overall he’s just been steady. He’s grown in the position which has allowed his ability to come through more and more. He’s tackled well in the games which is important to us. We lost a really good tackler last year in Goldson. We think Reid will continue to improve as the season goes on.

ME: Are you surprised Reid earned a starting job so quickly, quicker than Aldon Smith did?

FANGIO: No, because Aldon was learning a new position. Aldon was a defensive tackle more than a defensive end. He had to come in here and learn how to be a linebacker. And Aldon’s year was the lockout year. He had no work in the spring.

Q: Is Nnamdi you’re third cornerback going into the season?

FANGIO: After the game the other night, I believe so. Brock was nursing an injury prior to the third preseason game and the second preseason game which allowed Nnamdi to move ahead. Now, Nnamdi’s nursing a little injury. It’s a little bit unsettled because of the injury situation more than anything.

Q: Is Ian Williams the opening day nose tackle?

FANGIO: It’s looking that way right now, yes.

Q: Is it safe to say Jerod-Eddie and Tukuafu are fighting for one roster spot?

FANGIO: I wouldn’t limit it to those two guys. You’ve got Dobbs in there, too. It’s amongst those guys.

Q: Are you guys considering opening the season with seven defensive linemen considering Dobbs will be suspended Week 1?

FANGIO: It becomes a matter of semantics. He doesn’t count for that first game, so he will not be one of the 53.

Q: Are you sure Ahmad Brooks will be available Week 1?

FANGIO: From everything that I know, yes.

Q: Are you worried that could change at the last minute?

FANGIO: Nobody had told me that it could. It’s been a non-issue that way. I’m pretty sure the league came out and announced that he would not be suspended.

Q: Are you going to rest most of the starters Thursday night?

FANGIO: A good bit of them, yes.

Q: Which ones might play? Reid?

FANGIO: Maybe not. He’s gotten a lot of reps, a lot of work in since he got here in the spring and all through training camp. We may not play him.

Q: Injuries aside, did Asomugha earn the No.3 corner job with his performance?

FANGIO: Yes, he’s done well in his reps that he’s had in the game and in practice, particularly the last two or three weeks. He’s played much better.

ME: You said a few weeks ago you need to see if he has enough athleticism left at this stage of his career. Does he?

FANGIO: He’s still playing at a good enough level to be a major part of our defense.

Q: Was part of it seeing how well he could play on the left side?

FANGIO: He told us from the start that left or right wasn’t a big issue for him. It’s turned out to be true. When we put him at left 10 days ago after getting a lot of right, it was a seamless transition for him.

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