The Big Question: Can Eric Reid hold up in pass protection?
There will be no redshirt year for Eric Reid, like last year's first-round selection A.J. Jenkins had. The 49ers traded up to get Reid because they need a starting strong safety now. There's little doubt Reid will beat out Craig Dahl for a starting job opposite Donte Whitner. But Reid could have a tough time improving the team's pass defense.
The 49ers gave up far too many big plays in the secondary late last season. That has to be part of the reason why they let Dashon Goldson walk in free agency. Reid is a big hitter who can help the team's run defense, but there are questions how he'll hold up in one-on-one situations. Whitner isn't exactly known for his pass coverage ability either.
The 49ers face legitimate questions about the quality of their secondary; Reid will be asked to handle a lot and should be tested by opponents right away.
- The 49ers were the only team not to start a rookie last year. That won't be the case this time around. We mentioned Reid. Tight end Vance McDonald also is expected to replace Delanie Walker as a backup tight end/movable chess piece. Tank Carradine should take some of the snaps as a reserve defensive lineman, a role vacated by Ricky Jean-Francois. This rookie class will matter.
- It wouldn't be that surprising if fourth-round pick, wide receiver Quinton Patton, challenged Jenkins for snaps as a No. 3 or No. 4 wide receiver.