SANTA CLARA -- Safety Eric Reid wants to fulfill his childhood dream of playing against the New Orleans Saints and quarterback Drew Brees. It's up to doctors, however, to decide if Reid can play in the 49ers' game Sunday in his native Louisiana.
Reid sustained the second concussion of his stellar rookie season on Sunday, and like his first one Sept. 15 in Seattle, this one came on a shot to the side of his left head.
"I have been looking forward to this," Reid said. "This is part of my dream, to get to play in that stadium against Drew Brees and the Saints. Hopefully I can do my part and get a win.
"As long as I feel fine and the doctors say I can play, then I'm going to play. Right now it's just a waiting game for me."
Reid participated in Wednesday's practice in non-contact fashion and must pass an impact test — and avoid any post-concussion symptoms — before returning to game action.
Coach Jim Harbaugh said he's leaving Reid's availability up to the neurologists and doctors who continue to evaluate him.
"I trust their tests," Harbaugh said. "My test if you go back to my (playing) days, it was, 'One finger, three fingers, two fingers — how many fingers are up?' It's advanced so much further than that. It's on the right track. It's up to the doctors and leave me out of it."
In replacing All-Pro Dashon Goldson, Reid has started every game at free safety and produced three interceptions and one fumble recovery.
Reid said he will attempt to alter his tackling style, if only in terms of adjusting to the body size of his opponent. He figured he should have gone lower to tackle the Panthers' 245-pound fullback Mike Tolbert.
"Nobody goes into anything thinking they're getting a concussion," Reid said. "It's a split-second decision. ... I probably should have went lower. He's a bigger guy. But some of those things happen so fast."
Reid said he did not lose consciousness on the hit and that he stayed face-fist on the turf as a precaution until trainers arrived.
"I understand you're not supposed to move, that you don't want to make anything worse if you have a neck injury," Reid said. "I was just trying to protect myself and waiting on the trainers."
Fellow rookie safety Kenny Vaccaro, who got drafted No. 15th overall and three spots ahead of Reid, won't be playing Sunday after also sustaining a second concussion this season.
Saints coach Sean Payton said they preferred Vaccaro's versatility over Ried, whom he claimed still graded highly on their draft board. "He's transitioned very quickly into a very good safety, and that's not a surprise. We liked him a lot," Payton said.
Reid said he briefly held his breath hoping the Saints would pick him since they were his hometown team but that he's happy he's fulfilling his NFL dream now with the 49ers.