Linebacker NaVorro Bowman might be my favorite player on the San Francisco 49ers roster. I didn’t buy into the rhetoric that Bowman was going to be a different player due to his injury and I believe he’ll be, once again, among the NFL’s best linebackers this season.
But I wasn’t always so positive on Bowman. I was happy when the 49ers drafted him, but what little I saw of Bowman in his first year in the NFL made me believe I was wrong. I specifically recall a game against the Carolina Panthers where Bowman was completely lost and was burned several times by multiple players.
It was rough, the kind of game that made me doubt his ability until he was pressed into starting duty after his rookie year. Then he proved me wrong, and I felt silly for doubting him.
Now Reuben Foster is the young, promising linebacker and after watching him for the third time on Sunday, I have to say: I feel a lot better about him than I did Bowman as a rookie.
Bowman had the physical talent and the upside, but I thought his instincts needed some serious work as a rookie. He was in over his head, and I don’t get that impression from Foster at all. Can Foster reach the same highs that Bowman has? I honestly don’t know, but from where I’m sitting, he’s poised to be a force right away.
Against the Vikings, Foster took part in eight tackles including one for a loss, early on in the game where he sniffed out the running back in the flat and put him on the ground.
Either way, right now, it’s mostly a gut feeling based on limited preseason snaps. Anything can happen when we get into the regular season and Foster is tested against only starters while opposing coaches are calling actual plays. But if I’m betting big on any player to make a huge splash for the 49ers, it’s Foster.