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Robert Saleh: Improved technique could keep Reuben Foster healthier, make him better tackler

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The 49ers star rookie has been a beast, but injuries have been an issue. Improved technique could improve him considerably.

NFL: San Francisco 49ers at Chicago Bears Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

The San Francisco 49ers have had a lot of positives in the 2017 season, but one downside has been Reuben Foster’s repeated injuries. Since returning from his high ankle sprain and broken rib, Foster has not missed any games, but every week it seems like he gets dinged up and misses a snap or two. It’s better than not playing at all, but the injuries could add up.

Head coach Kyle Shanahan was asked about the injuries and suggested that they would look at his technique from the season, and see if there are ways to improve that. Defensive coordinator Robert Saleh spoke on the same topic Thursday afternoon, and he is a big believer in what improved technique could mean for Reuben Foster.

“This is gonna sound ludicrous in a way, but I think he can be even more explosive when he hits with proper technique. When he learns to run his feet through contact, he’s going to destroy people, without hurting himself.

“And that’s something he’s got to work on through the offseason, is how to tackle the right way in terms of — because when you see him, he just throws his entire body in there. But if he learns to actually accelerate through the tackle, with his shoulder to the sternum or shoulder through the thigh, I mean those hits will just be, what’s already explosive, even twice that.

“There’s an element he needs to work on with regard to his technique and tackling, to not put his body at so much risk, and I truly believe that when he does figure it out, he’ll be even more explosive.”

Saleh used a golf analogy to describe the value of Foster improving his tackling technique.

“[W]hen you leave your feet, it’s just, you’re losing all your power, you’re losing all that acceleration that you built up to get to that contact point. I’m a big golfer, so it’d be like decelerating at the ball. You might still hit the ball 250, but if you accelerated through the contact with all the right technique, that ball might go another 25 yards. So it’s the whole, trying to get him to understand what it feels like to accelerate through contact, and what he needs to get done from a technique standpoint to get even more explosive.”

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