49ers rookie LB Reuben Foster hopes to re­turn from in­jury

Manteca Bulletin - - Sports -

SANTA CLARA (AP) — Reuben Foster has been wait­ing to get back on the field ever since a sprained an­kle de­railed his NFL de­but af­ter a promis­ing start.

Foster made a big im­pact in his first 11 plays for the San Fran­cisco 49ers in their sea­son opener against Carolina on Sept. 10 with three tack­les and one pass de­fensed be­fore a sprained an­kle halted his rookie cam­paign and sent him to the side­line.

“It’s so hard be­cause you want to be out there do­ing some­thing,” Foster said Thurs­day. “The sport you love so bad and you’re just anx­ious to get out there.”

Foster has been back at prac­tice this week, work­ing on a lim­ited ba­sis at his in­side line­backer spot next to NaVorro Bow­man as the 49ers (0-5) pre­pare for Sun­day’s game at Wash­ing­ton, where they will be look­ing for their first win of the sea­son.

Foster said he felt good af­ter his first prac­tice Wed­nes­day and is hope­ful the doc­tors will clear him to play this week.

“Hope­fully, they see a child in me, like, ‘Want a candy?’” he said. “I want some candy. Let me have some candy.”

Get­ting a healthy Foster back would be sweet for the 49ers, who have lost their first five games un­der coach Kyle Shana­han and are seek­ing any kind of boost they can get to turn things around.

San Fran­cisco traded back into the first round to take Foster 31st over­all ear­lier this year and have teamed him

with Bow­man ever since Malcolm Smith went down with a sea­son-end­ing in­jury early in train­ing camp.

Foster has been work­ing on stay­ing sharp even dur­ing his in­jury and the Nin­ers don’t ex­pect him to need much time to get right back up to speed.

“He’s been out there ev­ery day, walk-through, and all that stuff,” de­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor Robert Saleh said Thurs­day. “He’s still get­ting all those men­tal reps. Yes­ter­day he was sharp. Lined up. Got peo­ple lined up. It was re­ally cool to see be­cause he hasn’t ac­tu­ally taken a live rep since when­ever he got hurt. To see the way he com­manded the hud­dle and the way he got peo­ple lined up. It was very en­cour­ag­ing.”

Wash­ing­ton is ex­pect­ing Foster to play and ex­pect­ing him to be a force when he’s on the field.

Coach Jay Gru­den said Foster was prob­a­bly his sec­ond­fa­vorite de­fen­sive player he scouted in the draft, be­hind only Wash­ing­ton’s first-round pick and Foster’s col­lege team­mate at Alabama, Jonathan Allen.

“I think he’s ex­cel­lent,” Gru­den said. “He can run, he can hit, he can cover. He can do ev­ery­thing you want a line­backer to do. So I think he’s a force.”

With Foster side­lined, RayRay Arm­strong has got­ten most of the play­ing time next to Bow­man. Arm­strong strug­gled with penal­ties and missed as­sign­ments early in the sea­son but has come up with two key in­ter­cep­tions the past two weeks.

Saleh said he wants to still get Arm­strong some play­ing time even with Foster back in the mix.

“He’s done ev­ery­thing he can to min­i­mize the one or two plays that have killed him in the past,” he said. “He’s got­ten very com­fort­able com­mu­ni­cat­ing and re­ally, re­ally has a great un­der­stand­ing of what he needs to do down in and down out. It is a chal­lenge to try to find a way to get all those guys on the foot­ball field at the same time.”

Photo by STU JOSSEY

Reuben Foster re­turns to the side­lines af­ter get­ting eval­u­ated by the med­i­cal staff dur­ing the 49ers’ sea­son opener against Carolina on Sept. 10.

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