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Reuben Foster expected to start for 49ers in return today vs. Cowboys

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The 49ers are welcoming back a key cog on defense.

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

The San Francisco 49ers are expected to welcome back rookie linebacker Reuben Foster on Sunday vs. the Dallas Cowboys, and he is expected to have a prominent role right away. NFL Network reporter Steve Wyche tweeted that Foster will start in his return to action.

Kyle Shanahan and Robert Saleh have said the plan is for him to take over the middle linebacker role vacated when NaVorro Bowman was released. He will likely start alongside Ray-Ray Armstrong, with Brock Coyle serving as the primary backup linebacker to those two. Eli Harold will start at strong side linebacker.

Foster was the starting weak side linebacker in Week 1 before suffering a high ankle sprain. He has sat out since, but all indications were that he would play this week. Kyle Shanahan said he was optimistic about it, and on Friday said it would be a surprise if Foster did not play.

The big question is what kind of role Foster has in sub packages. Before he got hurt in Week 1, Foster was one of the two linebackers in the nickel package, and was the starter in the dime package. Will we see a full workload like that, or will Armstrong get some work as well to ease Foster back in? Foster hasn’t played since Week 1, so my guess is a little bit of the latter, but we’ll see later this afternoon.