Reuben Foster shoulders high expectations in 49ers' defense: 'I hope I did great'

Reuben Foster shoulders high expectations in 49ers' defense: 'I hope I did great'

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – It was nearly a perfect night for Reuben Foster, whom some medical experts around the NFL reportedly thought would be sidelined for his entire rookie season with a shoulder injury.

The shoulder was the least of Foster’s concerns following the 49ers’ 27-17 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs on Friday night at Arrowhead Stadium.

Foster was still a little upset that his life-long streak without an interception in a game continued. He had an opportunity, but it slipped through his hands.

But his greater concern as he got dressed in the team’s cramped locker room was he could find only one sock and one of his shoes.

Otherwise, Foster was ebullient when reflecting on his first practice game with the team that traded up to select him with the No. 31 overall pick.

“It went well. It went great. It went awesome,” Foster said. “It’s wonderful to be back in the game mode, just to go that fast and hit and thump.”

Foster started alongside NaVorro Bowman at the team’s weakside linebacker position. Malcolm Smith had been in that spot since his arrival as the team’s highest-paid free-agent pickup. But Smith was lost a week ago to a season-ending torn pectoral tendon.

Foster has been a bright spot for the 49ers during training. As a rookie, sure, he blows a few assignments. But he also has more than compensated with four interceptions during 11-on-11 drills.

But as for games, he is still looking for his first pick.


In his life.

At any level of football.

He nearly got it on the Chiefs’ opening drive. He had perfect coverage against tight end Demetrius Harris in the end zone. Alex Smith’s pass was in his hands, but it got away.

“I was mad at myself,” Foster said.

“I thought I could have caught a pick,” Foster said through his omnipresent wide smile. “A pass breakup is always great.”

Foster played 27 snaps in his first game. Only three 49ers defenders played more: Lorenzo Jerome (33), and Solomon Thomas and Ahkello Witherspoon (both, 28). The 49ers wanted Foster to gain a lot of experience in the scheme and use the night to learn as much as possible. But, also, the team is down a couple of inside linebackers with Brock Coyle (ribs) and Donavin Newsom (concussion) out with injuries.

The 49ers signed linebackers Jayson DiManche, Austin Calitro and Sean Porter during the week, and they were not prepared to see too much action.

“We were trying not to have them in for too long, so that kept Reuben out there a little bit more,” 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said.

Foster contributed two tackles but appeared to play assignment-sound football – a positive first step in his likely ascension into the starting lineup for the regular-season opener on Sept. 10 against the Carolina Panthers.

“I hope I did great,” Foster said. “We’ll find out (Saturday) when we watch the film. I hope I did great.”

Things were looking up for Foster. His shoulder, which was surgically repaired in February, is giving him no problems. It has not been a concern since he was cleared to practice on the eve of training camp.

Moreover, he eventually found his other sock and shoe before exiting the locker room for the flight home.

However, he is still searching for that elusive interception.

Shanahan expects 'everyone in our building to be pissed off' after loss to Denver

Shanahan expects 'everyone in our building to be pissed off' after loss to Denver

After a couple of practices and one exhibition game against the Denver Broncos, 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan once again came to the realization things are often not as good or bad as they seem.

That was his takeaway a day after the 49ers provided the Broncos with five giveaways to go along with 11 penalties in a 33-14 loss at Levi’s Stadium.

“But when I get in and watch the tape, it wasn’t quite as bad as it felt,” Shanahan said Sunday on a conference call with Bay Area reporters. “When you look at each situation, especially when you talk about the ones on offense, it takes 11 guys to execute a play, and if you have one guy off a little bit, it breaks down.”

A couple of passes that could have been caught, a ball that slipped out of quarterback Brian Hoyer’s hand and some other correctable errors gives Shanahan reason to be optimistic.

When he spoke to the media on Saturday night after the game, Shanahan was clearly upset with how his 90-man team performed. He was asked a day later if it was a relief to watch the film and come to the conclusion that not everything was a total disaster.

“It’s not really relief,” Shanahan quipped. “It’s kind of my life story.

“We put a lot into it. It doesn’t matter if it’s a scrimmage, practice or preseason. I try to compose myself by the time I talk to you guys (the media) after practice. But I’m pretty pissed after practice when it doesn’t go well. We’re competitive guys and we want everything to be perfect. That’s why most of the time I’m not that happy.”

Shanahan said he expects everyone in the organization to hold themselves to the same high standard.

“Whenever you go out to a game like that, you want to win, you want to play well,” he said. “And you turn the ball over like that and you have the penalties that we did, I’m definitely going to be pissed off and I expect everyone in our building to be pissed off. If they’re not, that’s when I would be worried.”

Shanahan said he had the opposite feeling after the practice Wednesday against the Broncos that looked like a decisive win for the 49ers. Upon review, Shanahan said he felt there was still a lot of room for improvement.

“I thought things seemed real good at practice our first day versus them,” he said. “Then, I go in and watch the film and it was good but not quite as good as I felt when I was out there.”

49ers could get presumptive starting free safety back soon


49ers could get presumptive starting free safety back soon

The 49ers could get their presumptive starting free safety back on the field this week.

Jimmie Ward, who has been on the physically-unable-to-perform list since sustaining a hamstring injury during a conditioning test on the eve of training camp, will go through strenuous workouts Monday and Tuesday.

Ward could be cleared to return to practice as early as Wednesday, when the club is scheduled to hold its next practice.

Coach Kyle Shanahan said Sunday in a conference call with reporters that defensive backs coach Jeff Hafley will will pace him through a football-related workout on Monday and Tuesday.

"Hopefully, we'll get him ready to go by Wednesday," Shanahan said.

The 49ers envision Ward, a first-round draft pick in 2014, as a major contributor in the team’s new 4-3 scheme, which is based on Seattle’s defense. With strong safety Eric Reid playing close to the line of scrimmage, Ward will play the deep safety – a role that Earl Thomas has played for the Seahawks.

In Ward’s absence, undrafted rookie safety Lorenzo Jerome started the 49ers’ first two exhibition games and appears to have played his way into solid position for a spot on the 53-man roster.

"Lorenzo has done a good job," Shanahan said. "I think a couple of times he's ran around and been a ballhawk for us and made some tackles. I thought they caught him a few times out of position last night on a few play-action looks because he's been so aggressive. He's going to have to learn from those, but they never made him pay for those by going outside."

--The 49ers will have days off on Monday and Tuesday as they settle into their regular-season routine.

--Shanahan said he has been formulating ideas for the game plan against Carolina in Week 1 of the regular season. So as the 49ers play the exhibition games, they are mindful of not showing too much.

"I never get too far away from that," Shanahan said. "Everything we put into a preseason game, you always try to take into account what you’re going to be doing in the regular season."

--Shanahan said he thought No. 1 quarterback Brian Hoyer "did a good job." He said the first throw intended for Vance McDonald over the middle was thrown a little late.

"Besides that, I thought he did a good job with his reads and went to the right spots," Shanahan said.

Rookie quarterback C.J. Beathard also was on-point with his reads, Shanahan said.

--Eli Harold got the start Saturday night at outside linebacker position, as he competes with Ahmad Brooks for a job.

"I try to go off what I see in practice," Shanahan said. "You want to know who has more upside, things like that. Who's going to get better throughout the year if given the opportunity? But you also want to know, when it's all said and done, who is going to affect your win-loss record the most. Those are the things I look at personally."

--Former 49ers receiver Anquan Boldin announced his retirement on Sunday. Shanahan never coached him, but he was obviously a big fan.

"I've personally met Anquan or talked to him before, but he has been one of my favorites of all time," Shanahan said. "I love Anquan. I don't know him at all, but I feel like I do because I've always studied how he plays. I remember watching him in college when he came into Florida State as a quarterback and moved quickly to receiver his freshman year.

"And I remember him coming into the league and people thinking he wouldn't be as great because he didn't have a fast 40 time. And watching him play over the years. That's my definition of a football player. He's as violent of a receiver as there is, and I've always truly believed that receivers can really set the mentality of an offense. I feel lineman have no choice, they have to be tough. Running backs, if you're not tough, you're not going to make it in this league because you get hit every play. Quarterbacks got to hang in there. Receivers are the guys who can pick and choose a little bit. And when you have guys who play like Anquan, that just brings a whole different mentality to your offense that I think usually leads to teams that have chances to win Super Bowls."