49ers

Inactives: Reid returns, but Foster still out for 49ers

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AP

Inactives: Reid returns, but Foster still out for 49ers

LANDOVER, Md. – The return of rookie linebacker Reuben Foster will have to wait another week.

The 49ers thought they would be getting Foster back on the field for Sunday’s game against Washington. But after a strong practice on Wednesday, Foster did not rebound as well physically as the team had hoped.

Foster was among the seven players the 49ers designated as inactive. He will miss his fifth consecutive game with a high right ankle sprain sustained in the 49ers' season opener against Carolina.

With the 49ers release of NaVorro Bowman on Friday, the club will enter the game with inside linebackers Ray-Ray Armstrong, Brock Coyle, Elijah Lee and Mark Nzeocha.

The 49ers will also be without fullback Kyle Juszczyk, who was ruled out due to a back injury. The 49ers will compensate with four tight ends in uniform: George Kittle, Garrett Celek, Logan Paulsen and rookie Cole Hikutini, who was elevated from the practice squad on Saturday.

Safety Eric Reid is set to make his return to action after missing the past three games with a left knee injury.

49ers inactives
WR Kerndrick Bourne
CB Leon Hall
DB Dexter McCoil
FB Kyle Juszczyk
LB Reuben Foster
OL Erik Magnuson
LB Dekoda Watson

What the 49ers need to do in the last six weeks according to Kyle Shanahan

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USATSI

What the 49ers need to do in the last six weeks according to Kyle Shanahan

Editor’s note: The 49ers break for the bye week with a 2-8 record. This is part of a series that recaps the first 10 games with an eye to the future. In this installment, we look at what the 49ers need to show in the final six games.

After the five-game win streak, the 49ers posted at the end of the 2017 season. Having only two wins after Week 10 in 2018 is not what anyone expected. Barring a miracle, the 49ers won’t make it to the postseason, but there is still a lot to play for. 

Before his players left the facility for their week off, Coach Kyle Shanahan gave them a few things to think about. His most important message was that the season is far from over.

“I want them to really reflect on the season so far,” Shanahan said, “and what they want coming back in these six games. We’ve got six games coming back. Lot of football to play, and a lot of important football to play.”

“I want them to sit there and really think of what their goals are for the rest of the half. Do they want to solidify themselves as a starter, a backup? Do they want to be a part of it here? Do they want to be one of the answers or a solution to what we're going through?” 

“And really when they think about all that and they understand it all and what they want, which I'm sure they all have high aspirations, I want their actions to come back and show that.”

Shanahan himself reflected on the way the team finished in 2017. He noted how several rookies stepped up when called upon. He is looking for the same type of effort and performance at the end of the current season to determine who is deserving of a place at the table. 

[RELATED: Mullens earns respect from Shanahan]

There is a lot to prove for several bubble players who need to show they are worthy of a roster spot. Many have had substantial playing time as a result of injuries. Players like safety Antone Exum Jr., and linebacker Elijah Lee find themselves playing for a future spot with the 49ers or even another team. 

Shanahan and his staff will be looking at everything heading into the second half of the season. That includes the mettle of their players from the top tier to the bottom. Even though players like tight end George Kittle, defensive lineman DeForest Buckner and corner back Richard Sherman have played very well through their ten games, he says they can always do better 

“I think there are guys that are doing some good things,” Shanahan said. “But, even the guys who are doing the best, I still think there's even more.”

Shanahan put the onus on himself and his staff to get more from their players as well. 

“My goal is to get our guys to play the best they possibly can,” Shanahan said. “Whoever is in our building, to get them to play the best they can. I believe that we can get more out of our guys. I believe that's up to myself, I believe that’s up to coaches and I believe it's up to the players.” 

At the conclusion of 2018, both Shanahan and general manager John Lynch will have four years remaining on their six-year contracts. Yet, they both know that there is no time for regression and player injuries are no excuse. They need to show progress, and they need to do it consistently and immediately. 

“You're always playing for something,” Shanahan said. “This league does not have patience. I don't have patience. No one in this league has patience.” 

Why 49ers' biggest disappointment is their second-year defensive players

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AP

Why 49ers' biggest disappointment is their second-year defensive players

Editor’s note: The 49ers break for the bye week with a 2-8 record. This is part of a series that recaps the first 10 games with an eye to the future. In this installment, we look at the team’s biggest disappointment.

A lot of the optimism surrounding the 49ers’ season was based on the projected improvements at every level of the defense from the team’s top three picks of the 2017 draft.

Defensive lineman Solomon Thomas, the No. 3 overall pick in the draft, was expected to make a considerable leap from his three-sack rookie season.

Linebacker Reuben Foster, a first-round draft pick, was being counted on to emerge into one of the NFL’s top sideline-to-sideline playmakers, as a sure-tackler and turnover-creating machine.

And cornerback Ahkello Witherspon, a third-round selection, was expected to continue to build on his encouraging rookie season to supply the 49ers with a rising performer on the other side of veteran Richard Sherman.

The fact Thomas, Foster and Witherspoon have not made improvements over their rookie seasons rates as the 49ers’ biggest disappointment through 10 games.

Thomas has endured the most hardships, which began early in the offseason when his sister died of suicide. On the field, he has not been able to earn significant playing time as part of the 49ers’ defensive line rotation.

The plan was for Thomas to start at “Leo,” the team’s pass-rush end, then move inside to rush the passer on third downs. But during the New York Giants’ game-winning drive on Monday night, Thomas was not on the field for any of the plays when the 49ers needed to generate a pass rush.

Foster’s offseason development was impacted when he was forced to remain away from the building to deal with criminal charges of domestic violence. A judge ruled there was not enough evidence to proceed with the case. But Foster was suspended for two games at the start of the season for violations of the NFL’s policies on substances of abuse and personal conduct.

Foster has appeared in only six games. He missed the past two games with a hamstring injury. When he has been on the field, he has not produced, either. He nursed a nagging shoulder injury. Foster’s 12 missed tackles is worst on the team, according to Pro Football Focus.

Witherspoon struggled to open the season, as opposing teams isolated him while ignoring Sherman’s side of the field. He lost his starting job early in the season. He started the past four games, as the 49ers enter the bye week.

Witherspoon has been targeted 50 times, according to PFF. He has surrendered 30 catches for 339 yards with five touchdowns and no interceptions. The opposition’s passer rating against Witherspoon is 113.7.

General manager John Lynch told NBC Sports Bay Area that he expects to see more from Thomas, Foster and Witherspoon in the final six games of the season to create some momentum for 2019.

“He’s got to really start being the player we all know he can be,” Lynch said of Thomas.

As for Foster and Witherspoon, Lynch said, “I expect to see great progress from them.”