SANTA CLARA — After Saturday’s training camp session, 49ers linebacker Reuben Foster addressed the media for the first time since his domestic violence case was dismissed May 23.
Foster endured a hellacious summer as he awaited a verdict on charges for domestic violence, possession of an assault weapon, and threats, all stemming from an argument with ex-girlfriend Elissa Ennis in February. The case spanned nearly four months, progressing from the initial accusation, to the Santa Clara District Attorney’s report, to several court cases, and finally his exoneration. Foster also faced a marijuana misdemeanor for a separate incident that took place in Alabama, which was later dismissed.
“It was a big learning experience,” Foster said Saturday. “I learned from every mistake, everything that had been said, all of my flaws. I learned from a lot of things. I just grew from it.”
Reuben Foster just spoke publicly for the first time since his domestic violence case was dismissed. He said it was a learning experience, appreciated the 49ers for standing by him pic.twitter.com/l77LbC0g5O
— Brad Almquist (@bradalmquist13) July 28, 2018
Foster entered the NFL with some character concerns. During the 2017 NFL Combine, he tested positive for a diluted urine sample, which the NFL treats as a positive drug test. Considered a top-10 talent, he dropped to the 49ers with the No. 31 overall pick in the draft.
Foster elaborated more on what he learned throughout this offseason and how he plans to ensure he stays out of trouble in the future.
“I learned every day (that) I got to go harder in everything I do now to better myself even more,” Foster said. “It’s like do or die. Just don’t mess up. As fast as it goes like that, I need to do my job, like play football. It’s like trying to craft football, I have to craft my life and go hard at it.”
Foster said he wondered whether he would ever play football again. The initial DA’s report estimated he could have gone to prison for as many as 11 years if the charges were proven true.
“(It) made me appreciate football a lot better,” Foster said. “It was crazy knowing football could be gone. Being back on this field with my brothers and coaches, it’s a blessing.”
Foster reflected on his emotions throughout the process.
“Just stand tall, hold your head up high,” Foster said. “Everything is going to hurt. I have reached rock bottom before. Just got to hold strong, and know everything will be all right.”
Though Foster wasn’t allowed access to the team facilities during the case, Kyle Shanahan and John Lynch showed support and preached patience. Safeties Adrian Colbert and Jaquiski Tartt attended two of Foster’s preliminary hearings.
“It meant a lot,” Foster said. “It meant the world. When you are down, it brought up my spirits. Respect.”
Richard Sherman showed his support when he showed up to Foster’s first court case.
“(Sherman) is a man for that. I respect Richard Sherman for that, coming to court, supporting me, just being there for me.”
On July 3, the NFL suspended Foster for the opening two games of the 2018 season for violating the league’s personal conduct and substance abuse policies. Given the gravity of the charges, and the NFL’s lack of past precedent for punishing this type of behavior, Foster’s two-game suspension is a major win for the 49ers.
The 24-year-old linebacker has been a full participant throughout 49ers training camp, which began Thursday.