Not everyone was thrilled to see D.J. Reed score his first NFL touchdown last Sunday.
As San Francisco, a 10-point favorite at home against Arizona, clung to a 30-26 lead with one second remaining, the Cardinals hoped to lateral their way 78 yards down the field for a miracle walk-off finish.
That aspiration quickly fizzled. After hauling in a short pass, receiver Larry Fitzgerald's lateral hit the ground at the 26 yard line. A mad scrum ensued, spring-boarding the ball backwards inside the Arizona 10.
After teammate Jaquiski Tartt failed to scoop up the loose ball, Reed, a Bakersfield native and 2014 Independence High School graduate, seized the moment, recovering the fumble and strolling in for a 5-yard touchdown on the game's final play.
While elating the masses at Levi's Stadium, the sequence proved chaotic for those in the gambling community. Reed's touchdown created a "miracle push," as the 49ers didn't attempt an extra point and won by the originally predicted 10-point margin, 36-26.
Unsurprisingly, Reed, a second-year defensive back with 10 tackles and two pass breakups this season, says his Twitter and Instagram accounts were littered with angry comments from people who'd bet the under telling him "You messed up my bet, you messed up my spread." To those people, he had a simple rebuttal.
"I'm going to score if I've got the opportunity," he said. "And you messed up if you bet against us."
One place where people stopped betting against Reed a long time ago is Bakersfield, and the connection to his home city has only grown stronger as he's risen through the football ranks.
After closing out his college career 1,500 miles away at Kansas State, where he was a Second-Team All-American defensive back and kick returner in 2017, Reed hoped to land closer to home when he entered his name in the 2018 NFL draft.
"I just prayed to God I'd get drafted to a California team," he said.
That prayer was answered on the draft's third day, when San Francisco selected him in the fifth round. Roughly four hours from home, he often plays in front of a strong contingent of hometown fans.
Reed says his mother Linda and sister Florence attend most of his home games, while his mentor Allen Thigpen, who he met through the sports and mentorship program "We Are G.A.M.E.," was present for his first professional touchdown Sunday.
He's also regularly brings elements of his life in Bakersfield on the field with him.
For last season's "My Cause My Cleats" game, where players wear custom shoes promoting a charitable cause of their choice, Reed sported orange cleats in honor of his father Dennis, who is currently confined to a wheelchair with Multiple Sclerosis.
This season, he'll honor childhood friends Connor and Bailey Schooler, who both have Cystic Fibrosis, a genetic lung disease.
"I'll never forget about my roots," he said. "I love Bakersfield. I love my city"
He's hoping to bring that love back into the community once the 2019 season ends.
Though he's still trying to lock down a location, Reed is in the process of organizing a football and mentorship camp in Bakersfield during the 2020 offseason. Prior to the football portion of the event, he hopes to speak with campers about the value of a college education and pursuing goals outside of football.
Reed said the idea was partially inspired by a moment from his junior year at Independence, when Bakersfield native and then-USC quarterback Cody Kessler took him on a visit of the Trojan facilities. Calling this a major moment in his life, he hopes to bring similar joy to young athletes coming up through the ranks.
"Seeing somebody do what you want to do, it's a lot of motivation," he said. "Especially when they tell you you can do it too."
Thigpen, who met Reed during his junior year of high school, has always been taken with his ability to form an instant rapport with people. These skills were on full display last Sunday, when Thigpen says Reed was introduced to the mother of a teammate he'd never met and within minutes, was speaking to her as if they were old friends.
Thigpen says that ability to make easy connections will serve him well as he moves into a mentorship role of his own with aspiring football stars in his hometown.
"He's got one of those personalities that just lights up the room," Thigpen said. "He's very nice and very genuine to everyone. He's something really special."
If the season plays out the way he hopes, Reed's personality won't be the only thing that will impress prospective campers.
Going into a Sunday's primetime showdown with 8-2 Green Bay, the 49ers have a league-best record of 9-1 and enter the season's final weeks as a serious threat to win a Super Bowl.
While he says he hasn't given it much thought yet, the idea of returning to Bakersfield with a Super Bowl ring on his finger excites Reed to the point where he has noticeable trouble putting his feelings into words.
"Oh, my...I don't even know what I would do (if we won a Super Bowl)"," he said. "That would be crazy."