Robert Saleh

49ers Mailbag: What's next for Reuben Foster after arrest?


49ers Mailbag: What's next for Reuben Foster after arrest?

What is going to happen to Reuben Foster? (John Riley)
It’s much too early to tell, but . . .

As an isolated incident, probably nothing of consequence would happen to Foster as a result of his arrest Friday night in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, on a charge of second degree possession of marijuana.

However, there is a cumulative effect as it relates to the NFL’s Policy on Substances of Abuse.

He was presumably already in the NFL’s confidential program, based on his admission that he provided a diluted urine sample at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis last year. The NFL views a diluted sample as a positive test.

Foster said he was sick before the combine – possibly from food poisoning. He had a difficult time keeping food down, he said, so in order to keep up his weight he drank a lot of water and Gatorade.

According to the NFL’s policy, the first discipline for Stage Two, if for marijuana, is a fine equivalent of two game checks. A second violation would require a minimum suspension of four regular and/or postseason games.

Frank Gore. Retiring a Niner. They owe him. How do they make it work? (Lars Grelck)
You will not find anyone with the 49ers who has anything but glowing things to say about Frank Gore. However, it’s highly unlikely the 49ers would have interest in him as a player.

Coach Kyle Shanahan is looking for running backs who have more home-run-hitting potential. Gore is as steady as they come. But he turns 35 in May and he is not a good fit for what the 49ers are trying to build on offense.

But it seems obvious Gore is a strong candidate to retire with the 49ers – a sporting tradition that started with Roger Craig and the 49ers more than 20 years ago. A lot of the 49ers coaches and executives who were around when Gore played for the team are now gone.

But Gore has maintained a strong relationship with CEO Jed York. After the Indianapolis Colts played the 49ers last season, Gore sought out York and the men spoke outside the 49ers locker room.

Expect Gore to sign a ceremonial contract with the 49ers after he has played his final NFL game.

Do you think they will franchise tag Jimmy G or sign him to a long-term deal. If it’s a long-term deal, do you think they will make him the highest paid QB in the NFL? (Morgon Holden)
If the 49ers and Jimmy Garoppolo do not reach a multi-year contract by March 6, the team will tag him as their franchise player. I believe there is confidence on both sides that a deal will be reached. With only seven starts in four seasons, I would not expect him to become the highest-paid quarterback in the league. But he will never had to worry about money for the remainder of his life.

The Niners have a lot of decisions to make at safety, who will they keep? (Johnny O'Dea)
The 49ers have intimated that they have no problem bringing back Jimmie Ward on his $8.5 million deal on the fifth-year option. We know Jaquiski Tartt and Adrian Colbert will definitely be back, with Tartt being a strong candidate for a contract extension this offseason. I think Eric Reid will hit the open market. If Reid does not attract a lot of attention in free agency, the 49ers would entertain the thought of bringing him back on a one-year deal. Competition in the offseason program will determine who starts in what spots, but they all can be expected to play significant roles.

What players put on IR early in the year could have big impact next season? (Stépheñ Bůrkę)
--Linebacker Malcolm Smith, who sustained a torn pectoral during training camp, is the big one. He is expected to start at weakside linebacker with Foster moving to middle linebacker. The 49ers’ coaching staff was devastated when it was discovered Smith was lost for the season before the season even began.

--Running back Joe Williams (ankle) has a chance in his second year. He is exactly what the 49ers’ coaching staff wants from a skill standpoint. He needs to put in the work in the offseason and hold onto the ball in order to take advantage of his "redshirt year."

--Guard Joshua Garnett did not impress the coaching staff in the offseason and training camp before he went on injured reserve with a knee injury to open the season. The 49ers asked him to put in the time and effort to reshape his body. He looks a lot better. Now, the question is whether he can fit Shanahan’s system. The 49ers are hopeful that Garnett will make a huge leap, but they are not counting on it.

--Defensive lineman Arik Armstead (broken hand) enters his fourth season. The 49ers must make the call on whether to pick up the fifth-year option (for the 2019 season). There is little financial risk for such a decision, but it remains uncertain if Armstead is a fit for Saleh’s scheme.

Not first pick, Saleh has proven to be best choice as 49ers D coordinator


Not first pick, Saleh has proven to be best choice as 49ers D coordinator

SANTA CLARA – Robert Saleh knows he was not Kyle Shanahan’s first choice as 49ers defensive coordinator. But, now, Shanahan has come to conclude Saleh might have been the best choice for the job.

After Shanahan was named 49ers head coach in February, the clock was ticking for him to put together his staff. Former Jacksonville Jaguars coach Gus Bradley accepted the coordinator job with the San Diego Chargers. And the Chicago Bears would not allow Vic Fangio out of his contract to return to the 49ers.

But with two games remaining in his first season as 49ers’ defensive coordinator, Saleh has proven himself and will unquestionably be back in the same role next season, Shanahan said.

“Yeah, there’s no doubt about that,” Shanahan said on “49ers Game Plan,” which is scheduled to air Saturday at 3 p.m. on NBC Bay Area (Ch. 3).

“Robert has been great. I think he’s gotten better throughout the year, and I think he’ll be even better next year. Robert has a great future ahead of him. And I feel very fortunate that he’s the coordinator for the Niners.”

Saleh, appearing on the 49ers Insider Podcast during training camp, said he knew he was not the top person on Shanahan’s list to become defensive coordinator after serving three seasons as Jacksonville’s linebackers coach. But he said he was confident if he got an interview, he would convince Shanahan of his worthiness to lead the defense.

And that is exactly what he has accomplished while implementing his 4-3 scheme. The 49ers were ranked last in the league a year ago. This season, the 49ers' defense is holding the opposition to 56 fewer yards per game and is 22nd overall.

The 49ers’ defense is playing its best football in the second half of the season. A defense that was among the worst in league history stopping the run a year ago has now turned in four consecutive games of holding the opposition to fewer than 100 yards rushing.

“I think Robert has done a great job,” Shanahan said. “It’s his first year as a coordinator, and I know he’s waited for this time for a while. He’s been everything I hoped for and more. He’s very smart with how he’s run our scheme. I’ve been excited with our scheme.”

The 49ers’ improved defensive play has coincided with better continuity – the result of fewer injuries forcing starters to leave the lineup.

“He’s really worked through a lot of things this year with moving people around with the injuries we’ve had and trying to find the best spots for guys,” Shanahan said. “I think it’s not a coincidence this last month or so we’ve had the most consistent play with the same people out there. If you look through our first 10 weeks, it seemed like a new lineup almost every week.

“And the more guys can play together, the more you can run the same coverages, the same fronts, the same blitzes every week-in and week-out, and that’s when you can start improving.”

49ers defensive coordinator defends philosophy: Injuries are 'freak accidents'


49ers defensive coordinator defends philosophy: Injuries are 'freak accidents'

SANTA CLARA -- From the day he arrived as 49ers defensive coordinator, Robert Saleh stressed to his player that he wanted them to play with extreme violence.

And while the players on the 49ers defense has doled out a few shots along the way, it seems they have absorbed even more. In back-to-back weeks, starting safeties Jimmie Ward and Jaquiski Tartt were lost for the remainder of the season with sustaining broken forearms.

“I still think they’re freak accidents,” Saleh said. “We teach head-out-of-the-game, leverage side, shoulder tackling. If you watch real closely what happened to Tartt, he was coming in for that tackle and he had a shin to a forearm. I’m guessing the impact is what caused the break.”

Saleh said he could not determine how Ward sustained his injury while making a tackle in the game against Philadelphia.

“I couldn’t exactly see how it broke in the pile, but anytime you break something, especially in this league, I think it’s kind of a freak accident, in my opinion," Saleh said. "By the way you get rolled up on, these players are so strong. To break something, something goofy has to happen.”

There seems to be no common thread to the injuries. There have been broken bones, and torn ligaments and tendons that have accounted for 17 players currently on season-ending injured reserve entering the 49ers' game Sunday against the New York Giants.

“We've got to get through this week, and we'll have our bye week after that,” 49ers coach Kyle Sanahan said. “I know our guys have been playing real hard. We've been playing some long games and battling and some physical games, and injuries happen. I've never been a part of a team where it's been like this, but teams do have to deal with this type of stuff all the time, especially this time of the year.”

One of the 49ers’ most devastating injuries occurred before any games. Linebacker Malcolm Smith was lost for the season when the pectoral tendon tore while he was trying to rip the ball out during training camp.

“(That’s) something that is just fundamental teaching,” Saleh said. “So they’re freak accidents and you wish they don’t happen, but it did.”