I am unaware of 11-87s ever having a reputation of being unreliable. The early ones had a heavy RemChoke barrel and did not feel like an 1100, and thereby killed Remington's plan to have the 11-87 phase out the 1100 forever.
I am far from the world's premier pheasant hunter, but I didn't think you needed a 3" gun for them. I would go with an 1100 or an 11-87, depending on what you can find for how much money in what condition.
I sold and worked on guns for many years, and would like to hear about these physical issues that the 11-87 had that the 1100 did not. I do not call myself a gunsmith because I have not one artistic bone in my body. But I am a pretty fair gun mechanic. If you review the parts lists you will see that the 1100 and the 11-87 are closer than twins.
What could have happened... did.
I do not trust Remington's dating service accuracy. If they were Match.com, you could end up with Nancy Pelosi.