San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan announced something that was fairly obvious to most people. When asked if Reuben Foster was the starting WILL linebacker, Shanahan said that yes, he was. Shanahan did make sure to say if he is outperformed, someone could take his job. He also said that applied to anybody on the roster.
Defensive coordinator Robert Saleh has been hesitant thus far to declare to the media that Foster is the starter. He has talked about the team rotating snaps between Foster and Ray-Ray Armstrong, with Armstrong getting some first team reps this week. But Shanahan’s comments suggest it is officially Foster’s job to lose.
The 49ers didn’t draft Foster in the first round to bring him along slowly. He missed team drills in the offseason workout program due to his shoulder rehab, but he was cleared for full work at the start of training camp. He started out on the third team defense, and the team took its time the first week and a half. However, once Brock Coyle went down, he was bumped up to second team, and when Malcolm Smith got hurt, he quickly moved into the first team defense.
Ray Ray Armstrong could still potentially earn a rotational role, particularly due to his solid work in coverage. Foster is the starter at WILL, but it will be interesting to see what kind of rotation, if any, we see when the 49ers go into their sub-package defenses.