The San Francisco 49ers come out of their bye with rookie linebacker Reuben Foster healthy and looking to remain that way these final six games of the season. After suffering a high ankle sprain in Week 1, it took some time for Foster to get back on the field. He played the last two games, and was one of the best players on the field in both games.
There has never been any doubt about Foster’s talent, but health has been a concern. He did not participate in the pre-draft workout process because of a shoulder injury, and we saw the issues he had with his ankle and ribs this season.
General manager John Lynch was on KNBR Wednesday morning, and he discussed Foster, and how the rookie can improve. And it focused on health.
“He’s only gonna get better, but it’s been pretty darn good. But now a big part of this, one thing I learned in this league, it’s an old cliche, but your best ability is your availability. So first of all, you’ve got to be in there week in, week out, and that just happens. He had a rough injury in that first game, he’s worked his way through that.”
Lynch said one of Foster’s best attributes is his ability to keep players from getting extra yardage on a tackle. Often times we see a defender tackle an offensive player and either pull him forward, or the offensive player forces himself forward for an extra yard or two. With Foster, that is very much not a concern.
“I think we’re starting to see, I think one thing I noticed, so much of football is the hidden yardage, and one thing I love about Reuben is that when he hits ‘em, they go backwards. There’s no falling forward. He hits them and they go down or they go backwards. And then his ability — I remember talking to Nick Saban, because he was never timed, he was injured at the Combine, we never had a 40-yard dash. But, I asked, how fast do you think he is, Nick? And he said, as fast as the guy with the ball is, or faster. He’s as fast as he needs to be.
“We felt like he could be a special player. He’s shown signs of that, now he’s just gotta consistently do that. And we’re very pleased with him, and very excited about him this week and into the future.”
The 49ers face a Seattle Seahawks team this week that brings plenty of physicality, but has their share of questions on offense. Russell Wilson, Jimmy Graham, and Doug Baldwin bring plenty to the table, but the ground game and the offensive line are a mess. It will be fascinating to see how exactly the 49ers game-plan with Foster this weekend. Does he drop into coverage more, spy a little, or just spend his time all over the place?