Eric Reid was careful with his wording. He doesn’t view Sunday’s 49ers-Panthers matchup at Levi’s Stadium as a “revenge” game, his first time returning since leaving following the 2017 season.
“I’m determined to play them,” he said instead.
Reid, speaking to reporters in Charlotte, N.C., made it clear that this will not be a reunion filled with hugs and nostalgia. After the way his five-year tenure with San Francisco ended, it appears this game has been circled on his calendar.
“Bitter? I wouldn’t call it bitter,” said the Panthers safety. “I just don’t forget.”
Reid was a star immediately, a 2013 All-Pro after the 49ers used a first-round pick on the LSU product. He was a solid safety for three more seasons before his role evolved, asking a 6-foot-1, 215-pound free safety to move around the field more and even play some linebacker.
The fact they pulled Reid away from his natural position right before he entered free agency still sits in his mind.
“I remember they changed my position in my contract year,” said Reid, who has only been a defensive back in his season and a half with Carolina. “I remember they released NaVorro Bowman, who led the NFL in tackles the year before, and asked me to play his position. So that’ll be on my mind when I get there.
“… They told me it was what was best for the team. I disagreed. I thought keeping the NFL tackle leader was best for the team. But I did what I was told.”
Eric Reid on facing the 49ers for the first time since his release. pic.twitter.com/2zAIKNt2nh
— Sheena Quick (@Sheena_Marie3) October 23, 2019
Bowman had led the league in tackles in 2015, before a torn Achilles wiped out his 2016 and was then released midway through his 2017 season. A team that had Jaquiski Tartt and Jimmie Ward played both at safety and moved Reid around until Ward went down.
“I’ll definitely say hey to some guys, but they know how it is when the whistle starts,” said the 27-year-old Reid. “They know maybe better than the guys here what kind of player I am. So I’ll be ready and I know they will be, too.”