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Kyle Shanahan explains 49ers' choice to hire Chris Foerster as consultant

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Kyle Shanahan explains 49ers' choice to hire Chris Foerster as consultant

October 9, 2017 is a day Chris Foerster would like to take back. 

It’s the day a video of him snorting a white powdery substance in the Miami Dolphins’ facility went viral. Shortly after, Foerster resigned, and he has not coached again in the NFL.

Technically, Foerster still isn’t a coach, but rather a consultant for the 49ers, a role he has held since the 2018 offseason.

ESPN’s Jenna Laine first reported Foerster's role with the 49ers on Friday.

After the news broke, 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan spoke to NBC Sports Bay Area exclusively about Foerster, his role with the team and why he wants to help him on his path back to redemption. The two men spent four seasons together in Washington, where Shanahan was the offensive coordinator from 2010 to 2013.

“We found out about it [the video] when the whole world found out about it,” Shanahan said. “When it happened, we were as shocked as anyone, from my wife to anybody. It’s nothing I’d want to stick up for. These are extremely bad things that I know he’s not proud of, and I’m not proud of.

“He did something extremely stupid, and since then, he has hit rock bottom. He went to rehab for 60 days, and then he was in a 90-day outpatient rehab. For the last two years, he’s been in a 12-step program that he’s been to every single night seven days a week.”

Shanahan also explained why the 49ers didn’t make Foerster’s role with the team public from the beginning.

“If he was fully on our coaching staff, going to practice and going to games, I understand that it’s something that I’d have to address, but he’s not,” Shanahan said. “He’s in a consulting role. A lot of teams have consultants. I understand the ramifications of that, and why people will ask why I didn’t say anything about it.”

Shanahan made his feelings about Foerster’s actions very clear, which is why giving him a second chance does not come without restrictions.

“He is still in a consulting role because I do understand the seriousness of this matter,” Shanahan said. “We’re trying to ease him back in. I understand how big of a problem he did have. I also understand what he’s doing in committing to fix that problem. We’re trying to give him a chance to get back on track.

“I also understand that people make huge mistakes, and ... he’s trying to make amends and he’s trying to make it right.”

Technically, NFL rules state that a consultant without a coaching or team contract is allowed to participate on the field during practice but not during games. Foerster, however, has been relegated to watching film and attending position group and team meetings.

Shanahan explained that it has been a gradual process in which Foerster has had to earn his way back into a role with the team. It was a calculated risk Shanahan was willing to take.

“To help him with a job and make some money, and also because he’s good at it, we gave him a consulting role last year,” Shanahan said. “He helped us from afar with advanced scouting reports and things like that. He would just look at teams the week ahead and send us some information, all typed up because he was never in town.

“This year, we took it a step forward. We brought him in part-time but still a consultant, but he is in the office at times. He’s able to do things like watch film with us, but he’s still in a consulting role.”

Shanahan and the 49ers are holding Foerster to a high standard — possibly higher than anyone else in the building. Thus far, he has done everything they have asked of him.

"We are not going to act like flat out it didn’t happen and just let him back in right away,” Shanahan said. “We are taking a very slow process, and that’s why we did the first year the way we did and why it led to the second year.”

Ultimately, Shanahan and the 49ers have given Foerster a chance to rebuild his professional life while he tries to piece back together his personal life as well.

“He’s done that exactly the right way for two years,” Shanahan said. “We will see if he continues to do that, and then we will reassess that after this year. If it continues to go well, I think he has a chance to get his life back on track. And that’s really all we are trying to do.”

Shanahan believes that no matter where Foerster is, as long as he stays on the straight and narrow, he is a valuable asset.

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“Whether it helps him with the 49ers or helps him somewhere else, I know he’s a good coach who went through a very hard time, made some huge mistakes that he is dealing with, and deserves to deal with those because they were messed-up things,” Shanahan said. “I also know how he feels about those mistakes and what he’s done over the last two years to try and make amends, and I know he’s continuing to do that.

“I’m just pulling for him that he can keep up with it. If he does keep up with it, then whether it’s with the 49ers or with someone else, you’re going to get a good person and a good coach. I’m just really hoping that he can get back to being the healthy guy I knew in Washington, and that’s what I see so far.”

NFL Draft 2020: How agents are dealing with many coronavirus obstacles

NFL Draft 2020: How agents are dealing with many coronavirus obstacles

The 2020 NFL Draft might favor players who were able to able to attend the Senior Bowl and the NFL Scouting Combine, due to pro days and in-person meetings being canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic. But some agents believe teams have all the information they need to proceed on schedule. 

Leigh Steinberg and Chris Cabott, from Steinberg Sports and Entertainment, spoke to NBC Sports Bay Area about how their preparation for the draft has been consistent to what they’ve done in the past. Their agency represents Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa and wide receiver Jerry Jeudy, among other draft hopefuls. 

Both long-time agents believe that players who attended an All-Star event or the combine have an advantage, but that always has been the case. As in every draft, there will be players that exceed expectations and those that don’t live up to them. 

“When I first started in the industry in 1975 with Steve Bartkowski, there were no pro days, no team meetings, no combine,” Steinberg said. “If you look at statistics from players then, to those selected in 2005, the players in 1975 were more successful and productive. 

“Teams obviously believe that the more information they have, the better, but at some point it’s enough. I believe they have enough information to make educated and prudent choices.”

Brett Tessler, who represents 49ers running back Raheem Mostert, believes players who weren’t able to attend or weren’t invited to the combine are at a disadvantage across the board. An off the radar player won’t have the chance to catch a scout or coach’s eye at a local pro day and jump up a team’s draft board. 

“For most non-combine guys, it's going to put everybody at an equal disadvantage,” Tessler told NBC Sports Bay Area. “Teams will rely more on the spring testing numbers that they got prior to this season.

“But, the biggest disadvantage for non-combine guys trying to get drafted is the lack of being brought in for pre-draft visits where the medical staffs can do all the background work on these guys that they need to do.”

Just like everyone across the nation, players, agents and teams are taking advantage of video conferencing technology like Zoom and Skype for their 30 one-on-one pre-draft visits. This actually might be the one advantage for players who have grown up with video calls as the norm. 

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As in the past, teams still have the ability to ask players schematic questions using a virtual chalkboard, and go over game film during video conferencing sessions. Cabott believes that this year, there also is one resource that could be more important than in previous pre-draft research. 

“Trainers,” Cabott said. “Those guys who were working with players, getting them ready for pro days will have information that will be important for teams. They can give projections, send videos of testing and have insight to a player’s work ethic.” 

NFL Draft 2020: Why Kentucky's Lynn Bowden could fit 49ers' offense

NFL Draft 2020: Why Kentucky's Lynn Bowden could fit 49ers' offense

When John Lynch assured 49ers fans that he and the rest of the front office still will be as prepared as ever for the 2020 NFL Draft despite the coronavirus pandemic, he did so in a video where he, of course, was grinding tape in the background. Lynch very might have been scouting the next offensive weapon for coach Kyle Shanahan.

It appears in the video that Lynch was watching tape of a University of Kentucky game. The Wildcats just so happened to have a do-it-all player who can be unleashed in Shanahan's offense. Lynn Bowden is the modern-day prospect every team is trying to get their hands on. 

The draft remains scheduled to begin on April 23, but the usual pre-draft meetings between teams and players have been wiped out due to the coronavirus. Well, kind of. 

Thanks to the power of technology, the 49ers still can meet with prospects and get to know them as more than just a player on film. The front office already had two FaceTime visits with Michigan State defensive lineman Kenny Willekes and TCU offensive lineman Cordel Iwuagwu, the prospects told Justin Melo of The Draft Wire. The Athletic's Matt Barrows reported Saturday that Bowden, who played quarterback and receiver at Kentucky, is on San Francisco's list of virtual interviews.

In Shanahan's first three seasons coaching the 49ers, he only has used two players other than quarterbacks to attempt a pass. Both came last season when Shanahan's complex offense truly began to take shape. Receiver Dante Pettis completed a 16-yard pass to running back Raheem Mostert in a Week 2 win over the Cincinnati Bengals, and fellow receiver Emmanuel Sanders hit Mostert with a 35-yard touchdown pass in a wild 48-46 Week 14 win against the New Orleans Saints. 

Now, just imagine if Shanahan had someone like Bowden. 

While Clemson's Isaiah Simmons can be labeled simply as "defense" for his versatility, Bowden should have OW next to his name for "offensive weapon." He was a receiver his first two-and-a-half years at Kentucky and had 745 receiving yards and five touchdowns as a sophomore. Then last season as a junior, he was asked to be the team's quarterback in their final eight games and dominated as a dual-threat QB. 

Bowden earned the Paul Hornung Award as the nation's most outstanding all-purpose player, as well as first-team Associated Press All-American all-purpose recognition. He rushed for 1,468 rushing yards and 13 touchdowns, had 403 passing yards and three more scores and still led Kentucky in receiving yards with 348. To add the cherry on top, Bowden even helped returning punts and kickoffs. 

And with the ball in his hands, he's explosive.

At 5-foot-11 and 204 pounds, Bowden has speed, strength and great balance. He immediately can step in as the 49ers' version of a younger Taysom Hill. 

More importantly, Bowden fits in seamlessly to Shanahan's motion offense. Shanahan loves to use deception with play-action and multiple moving parts. This helped unleash Deebo Samuel as a ball-carrier throughout his rookie year. 

Shanahan can use Bowden on jet sweeps, reverses, play-action passes and even a wide receiver pass here and there. He's the perfect Swiss Army knife as football becomes more and more positionless. 

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After their two first-round picks, the 49ers are back on the board twice in the fifth round, twice in the sixth and once in the seventh. Bowden likely will be available in the later rounds and easily can turn into a steal.

Whether it be as a receiver, ball-carrier, Wildcat QB or returner, the possibilities are endless with Bowden as a 49er in Shanahan's offense.