Sakamoto: 49ers’ Pick Up Eric Reid 5th Year Option, Jimmie Ward Takes His Spot In 2018?

The dust has finally settled on the 2016 NFL Draft. The picks have been made, and San Francisco 49ers GM Trent Baalke can now prioritize an after-thought – exercising a fifth-year option to FS Eric Reid. A priority that was on Baalke’s to-do-list, it’s clear Baalke wanted to wait until after the draft before making a decision.

“We’re definitely looking at both options,” Baalke said. “If we can get something done longer, I think we’ll look at that. We’re also looking at the fifth-year option, as well. I would expect him back [2017] for sure, one way of another,” Baalke told beat writers leading up to the draft.


Reid, who only missed one game in his first three NFL seasons, enters the final year of his original four-year, $8.48 million contract. The fifth-year option is for the 2017 season with a scheduled base salary of $5.676 million. Baalke has the negotiating leverage to strike a long-term deal with his 2013 first-round pick (No. 18), but don’t count on it.

The team selected DB Jimmie Ward in the first-round (No. 30) of the 2014 NFL Draft. A head-scratcher to many, considering the team was set with Reid and recently signed SS Antoine Bethea – the addition of Ward made little sense at the time. However, Baalke gave his reasons on why the pick was made.

“He’s [Jimmie Ward] going to come in, we’re going to expect him to learn the nickel position. We’re going to expect him to learn the safety position and how he fits into the scheme,” Baalke said shortly after selecting Ward. Fast forward to today and Baalke said Ward will now be doing the latter [safety] more often.

He will be making a “transition to the back-half [Safety],” Baalke told beat writers. And that’s where I see Ward’s at his best. Playing center-field while taking advantage of his ball-hawking ability.

USA Today Sports

USA Today Sports

Ward would team up with best friend and hard-hitting SS Jaquiski Tartt creating a dynamic duo that hasn’t been seen since FS Dashon Goldson and SS Donte Whitner.

Do you see a domino effect?

Not surprising the team invested a third-round pick on (No. 68) CB Will Redmond. The Mississippi State product was clearly drafted to transition into Ward’s nickel role in two years time. Should he have any setbacks as he recovers from his torn ACL, Redmond is this year’s version of CB Chris Culliver in 2011-2012 and Ward (2014-2015).

Baalke believes that a player’s development is a three-year window. But if past history is any indication of the future, that two year window gets expedited, if you’re drafted to play the nickel role. Just look at Culliver and Ward [safety] as both moved onto larger roles in year three.

In 47 games, Reid has totaled 190 tackles, 7 interceptions and 25 PBUs.

Ryan is the Founder/CEO of, 49ers Beat Writer, Live Game Day Correspondent for Bleacher Report and member of Pro Football Writers of America. Born and raised in San Jose, he also graduated from San Diego State University. His work has been featured on NFL Network, 95.7 The Game, National Football Post, Sports Illustrated, FanSided Network, ESPN Radio, CBS Sports 810, and NBC Bay Area News. For more information, please contact him via email at or call him at (408) 622-0996.