The Niners introduce first round draft pick Eric Reid

As the reigning Super Bowl champ, the Baltimore Ravens waited patiently to make the 32nd selection in the 2013 draft. With their first pick they selected free safety Matt Elam of Florida in an attempt to replace future Hall of Famer Ed Reed who they loss to the Houston Texans back in March.

Elam’s hard-hitting, competitive style is obvious, but no one player can replace Ed Reed. If Elam beats Michael Huff for the starting position after training camp or early in the season he will have big shoes to fill.

 Ravens GM Ozzie Newsome understands the progression needed for a player to transform into a player of Reed’s caliber.

“What player did we lose this year to the Texans?” Newsome asked Elam, referring to future Hall of Famer Ed Reed. “Now what player is going to be able to come in and line up in our secondary and play the game like an All-Pro player?”

“Matt Elam?” Elam answered.

“Ok, that’s what I wanted to hear.”

It doesn’t hurt to dream, but dreams without strategies and executions are just figments of the imagination and will never become reality. In Elam’s case, it may take until mid-season before he performs at an All-Pro level, but is that a risk the Ravens can take? The Ravens are at a bigger disadvantage than the 49ers because they have bigger play makers to replace.

Jim Harbaugh’s 49ers made two important changes to their roster; the loss of QB Alex Smith and FS Dashon Goldson. But since Kaepernick became the starting quarterback for the 9ers and led them to the Super Bowl, the absence of Smith wasn’t a factor. Unlike Smith, the loss of Goldson highly affects the success of the 9ers. Fortunately, Goldson is replaceable. By adding Safety Eric Reid to the roster the loss of Goldson will soon be as irrelevant as the loss of Smith.

Reid’s relationship with Jim also adds to the 9ers advantage over the Ravens. Reid and Jim have developed a relationship far before Reid impressed fans as an LSU Tiger.

When Reid was in high school Jim tried to convince him to play for his Stanford Cardinals, but Reid declined and opted for LSU. Determined to secure the golden boy he’s admired for years, Jim traded up to get Reid as the 18th selection from the Dallas Cowboys.

“This was our top-rated safety,” Jim Harbaugh said. “This was definitely our ‘A’ option.”

Looking back on their past, Reid remembers Jim’s persistency and resilience in attempting to recruit him.

“He [Jim] tried to torment me for not going to Stanford and choosing LSU, but the story comes full circle that he ended up drafting me,” Reid said. “I was born and raised in Louisiana and I bled purple. I still bleed purple and gold, so it was a no-brainer for me to go to LSU. He was actually the only school that recruited me as hard as LSU did. All the other schools pretty much gave up knowing I was an in-state guy, but it said a lot about how much he wanted me to go to Stanford, and I appreciated it.”

If the relationship between Jim and Reid has a positive effect on Reid’s performance, the 49ers may be back in a comfortable playoff spot next year. Unfortunately for the Ravens, they will attempt to reverse the Super Bowl curse without Ed Reed, let’s hope the 5’10” 208 pound safety can help them readjust to success.

“He can cover very well, he’s played high, he’s played low, he’s got good ball skills, he’s tough, he tackles extremely well,” Assistant General Manager Eric DeCosta said. “I think the thing when you talk about Matt Elam that we all recognized early, is this guy is a physical guy who can tackle.”