SANTA CLARA – Rookie linebacker Reuben Foster has made significant physical improvement just nine days after sustaining a high right ankle sprain.
The 49ers’ medical staff no longer requires Foster to wear an orthopedic boot to stabilize his foot. On Tuesday, he was seen walking briskly through the 49ers’ locker room with no hint of an issue.
Foster will not play Thursday night when the 49ers return to action against the Los Angeles Rams. Beyond this week, it remains possible Foster could make a quick return to the field.
“The one thing I know is that freak athletes tend to be freak healers, as well,” 49ers general manager John Lynch told NBC Sports Bay Area on Tuesday.
Lynch said the team will take no chances with Foster and it’s too early to tell if it’s possible he can return to the lineup Oct. 1 against the Arizona Cardinals. Foster sustained the ankle injury on the 11th play of the season opener against the Carolina Panthers.
“We think the sky’s the limit for Reuben,” Lynch said. “We just have to get him healthy and we’re going to make sure he’s all the way healthy. We can’t afford, with a guy like that, to put him out there too soon.
“He wanted to play the first week in the boot. That’s just the way he’s wired. We got to make sure he’s all the way healthy before we put him in, and we’re going to do that.”
The 49ers have signed wide receiver Max McCaffrey off the Green Bay Packers’ practice squad, a source confirmed Tuesday to NBC Sports Bay Area.
The NFL Network first reported the 49ers’ move.
The team could place wide receiver Victor Bolden on injured reserve to make roster space for McCaffrey. Bolden sustained an ankle injury in the 49ers’ 26-16 victory Sunday over the Houston Texans.
McCaffrey (6 foot 2, 200 pounds) is a second-year player from Duke. He is the son of former NFL receiver Ed McCaffrey and the older brother of former Stanford star and Carolina Panthers rookie Christian McCaffrey.
Max McCaffrey appeared in five games this season for the Jacksonville Jaguars, catching one pass for 4 yards.
He originally signed with the Raiders as an undrafted rookie and spent time with Green Bay, New Orleans and Jacksonville before returning to the Packers’ practice squad in October.
Jimmy Garoppolo has thrown for more yards than any quarterback in 49ers history in his first two starts.
But 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said Garoppolo’s play has not changed how he views the contract situation that must be addressed before the start of the new league year in March.
The 49ers acquired Garoppolo in a late-October trade with the New England Patriots. He is under contract only through the end of this season. The 49ers will retain Garoppolo with the franchise tag if the sides are unable to reach agreement on a multi-year deal.
“For me personally, it doesn't impact anything,” Shanahan said. “I thought it was so neat about the situation that I didn't feel that, because of that (franchise) option, that we had to see something here or there, and we had to do all this stuff.
“It's been able for us to just try to do things the right way, put him in when we thought he was ready to, not put any pressure on him where he has to do all this to show something. Obviously, we're very encouraged with how these two games have been.”
The 49ers must designate Garoppolo as their franchise player at any point from Feb. 20 to March 6. Last year, the one-year cost for a franchise player at quarterback was $21.268 million.
In leading the 49ers to back-to-back road victories, Garoppolo threw for 293 yards against the Chicago Bears and 334 yards against the Houston Texans. Garoppolo is scheduled to make his first home start on Sunday against the Tennessee Titans at Levi's Stadium.
“We'll see what happens here in the offseason when we get together and can assess everything,” Shanahan said. “I definitely don't think that’s something he's thinking about at this point, and it's definitely not something I'm thinking about, either.”
Shanahan said he does not anticipate the sides working out a contract extension during the final three weeks of the regular season.