SANTA CLARA — This is the transcript of Jim Harbaugh’s press conference about first-round pick Eric Reid, courtesy of the 49ers.
You obviously recruited S Eric Reid to try to get him to Stanford. So, how does it feel to have him come to the 49ers?
“It feels great. We did recruit Eric when we were at Stanford. Got to know the family quite well. It was tough because his dad was an All-American at LSU as a track athlete. Mom, a wonderful, wonderful person, and we really connected through the whole process. But, this time Eric had no choice in the matter, and it feels great to have him.”
What attracted you to him?
“His ability to play football. And he’s a ‘football player.’ We’ve said that before about guys and this applies to Eric Reid.”
Will he be a starter for you?
“He’ll have the license to be. He’s got the ability to be. But, they’ll be tremendous competition at that position and we’ll let it play out.”
Did you sense that was a losing battle early on when you were trying to recruit him, given his ties to LSU and the state?
“He was a very, very fine student. That was something that was very important to his mother. So, I felt like we had a shot. But, in the end, being from right there near Baton Rouge. And he went on to have a great career. And things have worked out very well for him, just as we had foreseen that it would. So, congratulations to him. We’re really happy and pleased that he’s a 49er. When I talked to Mrs. Reid, she said that that’s where she wanted Eric wanted to go because that’s where Eric wanted to go. That was his first choice. So, win, win.”
Is it easier to evaluate guys from the SEC because they’re going against great teams and great players every week?
“I don’t think there is anything easy about the process. To talk about our scouting department, to talk about our general manager Trent Baalke, there’s no amount of film that they won’t watch. They’re not scared to watch anybody’s film, whether it’s in the SEC or any other conference, for that matter. And the same with our coaches. They watch the film, they grind through the film. That’s long. It is a hard process to evaluate and determine good, better, best. And ultimately somebody that you’re going to make that one pick on.”
I’m not suggesting it’s easy, but does that factor in?
“You said, was it easy?”
No. I said, is it easier to evaluate in the SEC because the competition and everything is pretty stiff. I wasn’t suggesting it was easy, but does it figure in your evaluations?
“Yeah, it does figure in. That’s an outstanding conference and it’s the highest caliber of football this past season, in my opinion. But, no, there’s nothing easy or easier about any of this. It’s a lot of hard work.”
What are his skills as a safety? Is he a hard hitter, cover guy? What makes him stand out when you watch him?
“What stands out to us is that he is both of those. He can play down in the box. He has great contact courage. He likes to get from point A to point B and go hit somebody. He’s an effective tackler. And he’s a hard-hitting tackler. But, he also plays the deep part of the field extremely well. And can track the football. Has the speed to go be a range safety, cover ground. And long arms, big wingspan. Gets guys down when he tackles. But, also can make plays on the ball when it’s thrown up in the air. So, I would say both of those things he excels at.”
Had you only spoken to him at the combine?
Did you guys have a meeting in the hotel room, or just over the phone?
“It was one of our meetings at the combine.”
Why move 13 spots up?
“We felt that was the spot we needed to go to.”
Was there information that somebody at that time was going to take him, that it was imminent?
“Because sometimes you don’t know what is good information or misinformation. So, to get into the game of ‘you thought,’ or ‘you knew’ isn’t in our opinion accurate. So, you make the evaluation on the player and pick them where you think you need to and where you think you can get that player.”
Did you kind of enter the first round with this in mind, that this is the game plan, or were there multiple scenarios?
“Well, when you’re picking where we’re picking, it’s harder to predict what’s going to happen in front of you. And this was definitely our ‘A.’ Option ‘A.’”
Were there any specific performances that stand out among the rest of the games in his career?
“I think his whole body of work has been outstanding. He’s played 13 games every single season that he’s been there. And the last two seasons started 13 games each year. But, he played big in the big games. Those are the ones that stand out the most, even more than the others.”
He spoke about bringing his daughter on stage at the draft and how she’s changed his outlook on football and how it’s a way to provide for his family. Did that come across in his interviews that he’s a mature guy coming out of college because of fatherhood?
“Well, there’s no question about it. Anybody who’s got a daughter knows that changes your perspective immensely. You love a lot of things in your life, but there’s nothing you love more than a daughter. But, as far as Eric, he’s a top-shelf guy.”
Did you guys consider moving up even higher to get him, or anybody else in this draft?
“We consider a lot of scenarios. But, the spot where we eventually moved up to was the one that we had planned all day today.”
Sort of an odd draft with some of these offensive tackles taken early, a few quarterbacks, was this one of the scenarios you guys had played out beforehand? Did it go along the way you thought it might?
“In a lot of respects it did, and in some it didn’t. Did it play out the way we thought it would, not exactly. But, we’re pleased the way it played out for us.”
The Rams traded up to get Tavon Austin. The Seahawks got Percy Harvin. Can you talk about the challenge that those two players will provide your defense?
“Not at this time.”
Another safety was taken ahead of this guy, Kenny Vaccaro, did that make the move more urgent after he was taken? Or did you figure that was always going to play out?
“No, it didn’t make the move more urgent.”
You obviously liked this guy better?
“This was our top-rated safety, yes.”
Are there a couple more picks out there that you want too?
“There are a lot of them. Yeah, there are a lot of them, yes. A bunch of guys.”
In the process with Eric, did you visit Louisiana? You said you got to know his parents. How intensive an effort did you make in recruiting him a couple of years ago?
“It was mainly phone calls with Eric. Two conversations with Eric Reid, Sr., and a lot of emails with Mrs. Reid. But, it was at a time when head coaches weren’t allowed to go out on the road recruiting. And about the time that I could go visit him in person, he had already committed to LSU, and I respected that decision.”
With assistant secondary coach Greg Jackson obvious ties to LSU, very much on the Eric Reid bandwagon, and did he have good information on him or did he know about him from high school recruitment?
“A lot of the folks here, scouts, coaches, had information on Eric from college, from LSU. The thing that keeps coming back is that everyone loved him down there. Everyone loved him on the LSU campus.”