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49ers get their safety after trading up

LSU safety Eric Reid was an increasingly popular projection to be selected by the San Francisco 49ers as the 2013 NFL mock drafts piled up late this week.

The assumption was that the 49ers might get him at No. 31, but with the New Orleans Saints taking safety Kenny Vaccaro at No. 15, the 49ers put their considerable draft capital to use. They traded up to No. 18 and selected Reid in that spot, filling a need created when the team allowed Pro Bowl free safety Dashon Goldson to leave in free agency.

The 49ers traded the 31st and 74th overall choices to the Dallas Cowboys for the 18th pick. This trade favored San Francisco slightly on the traditional draft-value chart, which dates to the early 1990s. Dallas came out ahead by some of the more recently developed value charts, including those calculable on Steve Drake's site.

Value is in the eye of the beholder, of course. The 49ers obviously loved Reid, who projects as a player versatile enough to play either safety spot. Veteran strong safety Donte Whitner is entering the final year of his contract. With Goldson gone, the 49ers needed to address the position for the longer term, even with Craig Dahl arriving as insurance through free agency. Reid could start right away.

San Francisco entered this draft with a league-high 13 picks. That gave the 49ers ample flexibility to move up the board for a specific player. Reid was that player. He fills an immediate need. The 49ers still have two second-round choices, one third-rounder and two fourth-rounders. They could still use a defensive lineman; only two defensive tackles came off the board in the top 19 picks.

San Francisco is just getting started.