PHOENIX -- Linebacker Kwon Alexander has been described as a hard hitter who flies around the field. Coach Kyle Shanahan saw the same type of play from ex-49er Reuben Foster.
“It’s the hard hits,” Shanahan said. “And it’s also the excitement of just truly enjoying football and playing it.”
Foster won over Shanahan and general manager John Lynch prior to the 2016 draft with his exuberant personality and enthusiasm. That attitude and love for the game were felt in the locker room by his teammates as well.
There were a few red flags in Foster’s past, but what Shanahan and Lynch experienced in person was enough to influence their decision. Foster was released from the team in November of 2016.
Now, older and wiser with two seasons under their belts, Lynch and Shanahan have brought the same traits to the linebacker position with Alexander. This time without the red flags.
Shanahan explained the positive similarities he sees between the two linebackers.
“There’s a personality to their game that you can see on a silent tape, which is kind of neat,” Shanahan said. “You can watch a silent tape, but you can feel the energy they play with. Always, fans like that, but your team feels that too.”
CEO Jed York has been blown away not only by Alexander’s personality, but also by the fact that he is actually four months younger than Foster while having two more years of NFL experience.
Lynch offered a similar sentiment during Alexander’s introductory press conference.
“I believe certain players bring out the best in their teammates with the way they play,” Lynch said. “There’s a certain passion for the game that screams even when you’re watching film that’s silent.
“You can just see it jump through. And he plays with his hair on fire, and I think that kind of play is contagious.”
The 49ers staff is looking for Alexander to line up next to Fred Warner, who had the added responsibility of wearing the “green dot” as a rookie. No decision has been made if Warner will again be the “quarterback” of the defense, but it seems likely with the addition of Alexander.
The 49ers staff is not only looking for production on the field, but also hoping that Alexander will be a motivational force in the locker room as well.
“Football can be a grind,” Shanahan said. "Going through those practices all the time, having to go through the physicality of it. When you have guys that have that type of charisma, you can tell by watching that they truly enjoy playing football. It can get very contagious.”