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Kyle Shanahan: ‘I feel pretty confident’ Reuben Foster will play Sunday

The 49ers have been atrocious against running back pass catchers. Reuben Foster’s return will help in that area.

Denver Broncos v San Francisco 49ers Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

The San Francisco 49ers have struggled in a big way against running backs catching passes out of the backfield, but Sunday they might get a critical reinforcement to improve in that area. Head coach Kyle Shanahan told the media on Friday that he is “pretty confident” that rookie linebacker Reuben Foster will play this weekend against the Dallas Cowboys. He said Foster is not yet 100 percent, but he’s at a point where barring a setback, he can play.

The 49ers were absolutely butchered by Chris Thompson and Samaje Perine on passes out of the backfield last week. This week, they face a Dallas Cowboys team that has been relatively quiet on those plays. However, it would not surprise me to see Dallas try and take advantage of this weakness.

Football Outsiders ranks the 49ers No. 30 in defending running backs on pass plays. NFL reporter Adam Caplan posted some useful stats related to the 49ers covering running backs. They have given up 10.34 yards per catch, and it has not been pretty.

We don’t know how much playing time Foster will get on Sunday, but if he gets a fairly full load of snaps, that would mean base work, nickel work, and then dime linebacker snaps. My guess is he does not get quite that full workload, but hopefully we see plenty of him. The 49ers have not had any kind of consistent answer against running back pass catchers, so hopefully Foster can provide that.