Most NFL players are vacationing, kicking their feet up, or partying with bikini-clad women at night clubs. The first three weeks of July will be their only extensive down time until January.
Preparing for his first NFL season, 49ers first-round pick Reuben Foster has other summer plans.
On Sunday, Foster posted an Instagram video of himself working out in Santa Clara at the 49ers’ facility. There’s obviously no requirement to do this — especially not in Santa Clara. It’s great to see Foster establishing his home in the Bay Area.
Foster was a very limited participant in the 49ers’ offseason program after shoulder surgery to repair his right rotator cuff. Reports surfaced after the draft several teams had removed Foster from their draft board due to medical concerns. Couple that next to his incident with a NFL combine medical staffer and a diluted drug test, there were some obvious pre-draft burdens for the former Alabama star to overcome. So far, the 49ers have been pleased with Foster’s progression.
“He’s been doing great with his rehab,” Kyle Shanahan said on June 14. “I really have no concerns. I think he’ll be more than ready to go by training camp. That’s my feeling. I can’t promise that, but I’d be surprised if it wasn’t.”
While watching practice from the sidelines, Foster’s been tutored a bunch by assistant coach DeMeco Ryans, a former Pro Bowl linebacker for the Eagles and Texans. But Shanahan has made it clear Foster won’t be handed a starting role. As much as the 49ers have swooned about him, he’ll have to compete with Malcolm Smith for playing time.
“Malcolm has played in this system before,” Brian Hoyer said. “He’s really hard to get in play-action, which has been good for us because the first guy is not always there.”
I talked to Foster after his introductory press conference about his support system. If you remember correctly, he told the story of the Saints calling him. Sean Payton wanted to make sure family members would be moving with him to New Orleans — before Foster hilariously hung up on them. Foster confirmed to me his support system would be moving to Northern California.
“Oh most definitely, (my girl) is coming out,” Foster told me in April. “She’s living with us. Along with my five-year-old little boy. I got an eight-year daughter, too.”
I would expect the 49ers to ease Foster in during training camp. They don’t want to risk anything with his shoulder, and letting him go 100 percent every day could put stress on the recovery. Last season, the 49ers did not give Colin Kaepernick any rest following surgeries, and he developed arm fatigue that kept him sidelined nearly two weeks.
Foster registered 115 tackles (13 for a loss) and five sacks last season at Alabama. His development in 2017 will likely determine how quickly this 49ers defense can correct last season’s abomination.