SANTA CLARA -- When the 49ers were eliminated from the NFC playoff race a year ago with one game remaining in the season, team president Jed York fired coach Mike Singletary and promoted defensive line coach Jim Tomsula to the position of interim coach.The fun returned for the 49ers in the final week of the 2010 season with Tomsula in charge. The 49ers finished with a 38-7 victory over the Arizona Cardinals. Tomsula's NFL head-coaching career consists of a 1-0 record.A couple weeks later, new coach Jim Harbaugh decided to retain Tomsula on his staff. Tomsula originally joined the 49ers in 2007 when Mike Nolan hired him. Tomsula spent the previous season as head coach of the Rhein Fire of NFL Europe."I have gratitude to Jim Harbaugh," Tomsula said on Monday during an hour-long sitdown with reporters. "What I appreciate right now, I think what the guys appreciate, is coach Harbaugh, these guys who came in and what they're doing and how they're doing it."I'm not reflecting on the past. I'm talking about the present and the way they're doing it and the structure, the environment. Here it is. Look what's happen. It's everybody doing it together and everybody's really working hard to do it. And I don't think you have anybody jumping out front and beating their chest." Tomsula said he always knew the nucleus of the 49ers was good enough -- and comprised of the right kind of people -- to have this kind of season. The 49ers have won the NFC West with a 10-2 record.Here is what Tomsula had to say about that:"I'm not lying when I tell you this. You're going to think this is a fairy tale, coach-speak, and it's not. Last year when we all talked and I kept saying, 'Look, it really is a great locker room. They really are great guys.' Everybody was looking at me . . . and I know you took it easy on me. And I appreciated it. What I'm saying is, it's hard to defend a record and talk about the kind of guys. And I tried to not defend the record but also say, 'Look, it's right here. It's here.' These guys, I've never had that problem. Never had that problem. I'd sit in that meeting room. I had the outside 'backers, defensive line and the inside 'backers, and we'd get up there and start going through all the run fits and going through all the stuff. And that was three, four years, and we're struggling . . ."Patrick Willis isn't playing any harder today than he did the first day he got here. Justin Smith, Ray McDonald, Isaac Sopoaga, Parys Haralson . . . They've played that hard. They've worked that hard. I can't tell you all of a sudden there's this dramatic increase on how hard they're working for something or how much time they're spending in the meeting room. The thing that I've always appreciated about these guys -- because I've been in other places where I'm sitting at home at night trying to figure out in my brain, 'How can I work an angle tomorrow? I got to bring people together. I got to get this right.' And that's part of what we do. You got to keep it together when it's starting to fray and identify. And, honestly, I can tell you with this group, it hasn't been that way. We've had some struggles offensively in some games over the past four years, and defensively the guys are winning or losing a 9-6 game. I can't tell you that I've ever been on the sideline where somebody is going, 'Geez, I wish the offense would get it going.' Or, 'Geez, what are we doing with that?' Haven't had it. Now, do we talk about it all the time? Yeah? Because if you take care of the team, the team will take care of you. And that's where we leave it and that's understood."What I appreciate it is they've stuck together through it. They persevered and they did it right. They did it right. I'm just speaking for my guys. They did it right, and now you see where this goes. That's what I feel best about." Singletary picked Troy Smith to start at quarterback for the must-win game last year. The following week, Tomsula chose Alex Smith to make the start. Tomsula explained why he wanted Alex Smith at quarterback for his one game as an NFL head coach:"That's the kind of guy I want my daughter to marry. I think he's got it, in terms of a man. He's a solid guy, a hard-working guy. He knows right from wrong. He gets it. He's that kind of guy."To me, this whole thing boils down to people first. You get the right people. Let's first make our separations on the right people. And, now, let's take the talent they have and work with the talent on the depth chart. But we got to get the people first. How many really, really, really talented guys aren't playing in the NFL who don't have it together? Or how many really, really talented guys go from team to team? It's got to be the guy first. It's who he is."Alex Smith . . . he is a heck of a guy. I don't think he wavers on who he is, whether good or bad, tough spot. Alex is a guy who knows who he is. I got a lot of respect for him."
Linebacker Reuben Foster was named to the NFL All-Rookie Team in voting conducted by the Professional Football Writers of America.
Foster started all 10 games in which he appeared for the 49ers after being selected with the No. 31 overall pick out of Alabama. Foster finished second on the 49ers with 72 tackles. He had seven tackles for loss, ranking No. 2 on the team behind rookie defensive lineman Solomon Thomas.
Foster was one of three linebackers selected as an all-rookie performer. Thomas, the No. 3 overall draft pick, was not among the four defensive linemen honored.
Foster was selected as the winner of the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Month for November. He missed five games early in the season with a high ankle sprain and another game with a ribs injury.
The NFL’s top defensive rookie was New Orleans Saints cornerback Marshon Lattimore, who recorded five interceptions and scored a touchdown while making 13 starts.
ROOKIE OF THE YEAR: RB Kareem Hunt, Kansas City Chiefs
CO-OFFENSIVE ROOKIES OF THE YEAR: RB Kareem Hunt, Kansas City Chiefs and RB Alvin Kamara, New Orleans Saints
DEFENSIVE ROOKIE OF THE YEAR: CB Marshon Lattimore, New Orleans Saints
2017 PFWA ALL-ROOKIE TEAM
QB – Deshaun Watson, Houston Texans
RB – Kareem Hunt, Kansas City Chiefs; Alvin Kamara, New Orleans Saints
WR – Cooper Kupp, Los Angeles Rams; Juju Smith-Schuster, Pittsburgh Steelers
TE – Evan Engram, New York Giants
C – Pat Elflein, Minnesota Vikings
G – Dan Feeney, Los Angeles Chargers; Jermaine Eluemunor, Baltimore Ravens, and Ethan Pocic, Seattle Seahawks (tie)
T – Garett Bolles, Denver Broncos; Ryan Ramczyk, New Orleans Saints
DL – Derek Barnett, Philadelphia Eagles; Myles Garrett, Cleveland Browns; Carl Lawson, Cincinnati Bengals; Dalvin Tomlinson, New York Giants
LB – Jarrad Davis, Detroit Lions; Reuben Foster, San Francisco 49ers; T.J. Watt, Pittsburgh Steelers
CB – Marshon Lattimore, New Orleans Saints; Tre'Davious White, Buffalo Bills
S – Jamal Adams, New York Jets; Marcus Williams, New Orleans Saints
PK – Harrison Butker, Kansas City Chiefs
P – Rigoberto Sanchez, Indianapolis Colts
KR – Ryan Switzer, Dallas Cowboys
PR – Jamal Agnew, Detroit Lions
ST – Budda Baker, Arizona Cardinals
Reuben Foster’s arrest Friday night on marijuana charges in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, is likely to void $2.5 million in salary guarantees, according to a former NFL agent.
Joel Corry, appearing on the 49ers Insider Podcast, said there is language in Foster’s contract that voids the salary guarantees if he is fined under the NFL’s Policy on Substances of Abuse.
“Typically with veteran contracts, you must be suspended . . . in order to have contract guarantees void,” said Corry, whose work appears on CBS Sports. “What we’ve seen in rookie deals is they’ve extended that to getting fined, as well.”
According to a league source familiar with the 49ers’ structure on rookie contracts, the team’s standard practice is to void guarantees with fines. The 49ers were not harder on Foster because of a failed drug test at the NFL Scouting Combine due to a diluted sample.
Foster was released on $2,500 bond on Friday evening after being booked on second-degree marijuana possession, according to the Tuscaloosa County Sheriff's Office.
Under the NFL’s Policy on Substances of Abuse, the first offense for a violation of Stage Two, if marijuana, includes a fine equivalent to the pay of two game checks.
In Foster’s original contract, his entire scheduled salaries of $875,708 in 2018 and $1.286 million in 2019 were fully guaranteed. In addition, $339,000 of his scheduled $1.697 salary in 2020 was guaranteed.
“What that means is,” Corry said, “he doesn’t get the money, no matter what, any more. But he can still make the same money that’s in the contract on a non-guaranteed basis, but you don’t have the same security as you did before.
“So if his rookie year turns out to be an anomaly or off-the-field issues end up being problematic, it gives the 49ers more latitude to either ask him a pay cut or to release him.”
Foster started all 10 games in which he appeared for the 49ers as a rookie. The first-round draft pick from Alabama recorded 72 tackles.