clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Ken Norton joining former assistant Robert Saleh to work with Reuben Foster

New, comments

The student has become the teacher!

The San Francisco 49ers announced the hiring of Ken Norton Jr. earlier this week, and it could bode well for the development of rookie linebacker Reuben Foster.

Recently, Norton sat down with NBC Sports Bay Area to discuss his reasons for joining the 49ers coaching staff. He joins a defensive staff led by defensive coordinator Robert Saleh. It is a reversal of roles, as Saleh once served as an assistant to Norton in Seattle. From 2010 to 2014, Norton was Pete Carroll’s linebackers coach, and Saleh was defensive quality control coach.

Norton talked about his relationship with Saleh, describing it as “fantastic,” and said that at one point Saleh worked as his assistant with the linebackers. He believes Saleh has a great vision of how he wants to do things, but Norton also has his own vision and they worked well together meshing those ideas.

Norton said that Saleh was the first to call Norton after the Raiders fired him. In their discussions, Saleh was quick to bring up Reuben Foster.

“He just made it clear that they have a young player, similar to the Bruce [Irvin] situation, very talented, could really do a lot of special things, and there’s no person that he’d like to teach him than myself. And so we just started with that as the initial conversation, and then it went on to the head coach and the general manager, and we just kept the conversation going. And this is where it ended up.”

Norton said he has not gotten a chance to see a lot of Foster this year, but really liked him coming out of Alabama. He said that coming out of college, he saw a guy who was, “fast, smart, productive around the ball, passionate – all the things that you expect good linebackers to do. Hits really hard, really physical.”

What he really wants to do is sit down with Foster and get to know more about his makeup and his motivations.

“I haven’t had a chance to talk to him and see what his makeup is or why he plays or what his motivation is or the things he might have planned for his career. That’d be interesting to see the type of man he is. But just from everything on the surface, looks really good. But you never know. You can never judge a book by its cover. So you have to see exactly what he’s made of and what his motivation is.”

The 49ers coaching staff did some great work in 2017, but there is always room to improve. Adding Norton to the staff could be huge for Foster’s development. Kyle Shanahan and Robert Saleh have both talked about the potential to improve his technique for both preventing injuries and for simply making him a better player. Norton seems like a great option to help with that, as well as the many factors of awareness that come with more experience.