Foster gets first shot to show what he can do: 'What's great about him...'

Foster gets first shot to show what he can do: 'What's great about him...'

SANTA CLARA – A season-ending injury to a starter might not have the same negative impact when it forces a supremely talented first-round pick into the starting lineup.

But do not try to convince the 49ers’ coaching staff that it will be easy to compensate for the loss of linebacker Malcolm Smith to a season-ending torn pectoral.

“He was unbelievable -- looked like the Super Bowl MVP,” 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh said of Smith, who was, in fact, the MVP of Super Bowl XLVIII while with the Seattle Seahawks.

“I don’t hurt as much for the organization as I do for him and all the hard work he put in this offseason to position himself to have the best year of his career. For that to happen to him when it happened to him, I feel sick for him.”

Rookie linebacker Reuben Foster was going to be a starter. It was just a matter of the timing. Now, there is more urgency to get the 31st overall pick ready to go for the Sept. 10 opener against the Carolina Panthers due to Smith's absence. Smith was placed on season-ending injured reserve on Monday.

“Yeah, I'm ready,” Foster said.

Well, maybe not quite, yet.

Foster has made his mark during the practice sessions with some interceptions. But he has also blown more than a few assignments. The most encouraging part for Saleh is that Foster has been able to quickly correct his mistakes.

“He’s had flash plays and he’s had busts that a common person won’t notice,” Saleh said. “But, at the same time, he’s been asked to learn a lot in a very short amount of time. So, for Reuben, it’s just a matter of getting those reps.

“What’s great about him is that when he sees it once he’s good. So, even if he’s made a mistake he’ll be able to recoup, re-gather himself back up.”

Foster lined up with the 49ers’ first-team defense on Monday. The plan is for veteran Ray-Ray Armstrong to line up at the weakside linebacker position on Tuesday.

Foster figures to be at his best when he is allowed to show all of the traits that prompted the 49ers to rank him as the No. 3 prospect in the draft behind Myles Garrett and Solomon Thomas.

Saleh was referring to his entire defensive unit, but he could have been speaking solely about Foster when asked what he was looking forward to seeing on Friday night.

“I can’t wait to see us tackle,” Saleh said. “I can’t wait to see us hit. I can’t wait to see the violence with which we play.”

Foster had to resist the temptation to put a hit on teammate Carlos Hyde on the third play of the day, as the players came face to face in the hole on a running play. The big hits will have to wait until Friday.

--Linebacker Eli Harold is nearing the final stages of completing the concussion protocol. He wore pads and went through non-contact football activity.

--Arik Armstead's deflection at the line of scrimmage of a Brian Hoyer pass led to Dontae Johnson’s interception, which he returned for a touchdown.

--Tank Carradine continues to be the first-team defensive end ahead of Solomon Thomas, the No. 3 overall pick. But Thomas appears to be gaining ground. “Solomon is starting to show up,” Saleh said.

--Nose tackle Quinton Dial recorded a sack on a stunt against No. 2 right tackle Garry Gilliam.

--Aaron Lynch returned to work after missing two practices after the premature birth of his son. He batted down passes from Matt Barkley and C.J. Beathard at the line of scrimmage.

--Cornerback Rashard Robinson left practice early with an apparent left shoulder injury.

--Coach Kyle Shanahan was not pleased with the way a backed-up period began. After four pre-snap penalties, including two false starts from Trent Brown, Shanahan stopped the action and had the team begin over.

--Running back Raheem Mostert fumbled near the sideline after a big hit from Lorenzo Jerome.

--During a 7-on-7 red zone period, tight end Vance McDonald beat Eric Reid on back-to-back touchdown passes from Hoyer of 6 and 3 yards. McDonald worked mostly with the backups in later 11-on-11 drills.

49ers wide receiver Pierre Garçon handed hefty fine


49ers wide receiver Pierre Garçon handed hefty fine

The NFL fined 49ers wide receiver Pierre Garçon $24,309 for unnecessary roughness in last week’s game against Washington.

Garçon, who was not penalized on the play, lowered his helmet and struck Washington safety Montae Nicholson at the end of an 8-yard pass reception in the second quarter.

In 2013, the NFL passed a rule that bans the ball carrier from initiating contact with the crown of his helmet in the open field.

Nicholson’s helmet flew off and he remained on the ground for a couple of minutes. He was evaluated for a possible concussion and shoulder injury. However, Nicholson was cleared and he returned to action.

After the play, Garçon and Washington safety D.J. Swearinger exchanged words, and Swearinger took a swipe at Garçon’s facemask. Swearinger was penalized for unsportsmanlike conduct.

The NFL fined Swearinger $9,115 for unnecessary roughness.

Ronnie Lott: Chance to show Dwight Clark how much we care


Ronnie Lott: Chance to show Dwight Clark how much we care

SANTA CLARA – In less than a year since a group of former 49ers players came together to form the Golden Heart Fund, the non-profit organization has provided valuable assistance.

“We’ve made some progress with the idea of knowing there are some people in need, so we’ve been able to make some grants to some of the ex-Niners,” Hall of Famer Ronnie Lott told NBC Sports Bay Area.

“We’ve been able to respond. This is more about us being able to give guys the ability to know they can have, as (former 49ers linebacker and Golden Heart Fund board member) Ron Ferrari says, a hand up not a hand out.”

The organization is in the midst of a fund-raising drive this week in conjunction with "Dwight Clark Day" on Sunday. The 49ers face the Dallas Cowboys at Levi’s Stadium, and Clark will be the guest of honor. More than 35 players from the 49ers' first Super Bowl championship team are expected to be in attendance.

Clark played nine seasons for the 49ers and provided the most memorable play in franchise history with “The Catch” against Dallas in the 1981 NFC Championship game, which propelled the organization to its first Super Bowl. Clark served as a front-office executive for a decade after his playing days.

In March, Clark announced he was diagnosed with ALS. He is scheduled to attend Sunday’s game and make some remarks at halftime from a suite.

“It’s unbelievable we are having an opportunity to celebrate an incredible day for this gentleman,” Lott said. “We can all say there was a moment in time in which we stood on his shoulders after making that catch. Now, we get a chance to lift him up a little bit and let him know how much we all care.”

Lott said Clark has been a champion of the Golden Heart Fund from its inception. Past and current 49ers ownership has supported the organization, which provides financial support for former 49ers players in times of physical, emotional and financial need.

“It’s the spirit of Dwight,” Lott said. “It’s more about the funds going in through his efforts. He’s paying it forward.”

--The public can made a direct contribution to the fund at GoldenHeartFund.org.

--Proceeds from the 50/50 raffle at Sunday’s game will benefit the Golden Heart Fund.

--Twenty-five percent of proceeds from the sales of Dwight Clark apparel purchased on game day will go to the fund.

--Half of all proceeds from admission to the 49ers Museum at Levi’s Stadium throughout the year will go to the charity.

-- On Sunday, Nov. 19, Levi’s Stadium and race grand marshal Roger Craig will host the first Golden Heart 4.9K Run with all proceeds from the event going to the Golden Heart Fund. Runners can register GoldenHeartRun.com.