Norton Jr. knows Foster's skill set, ready to see what motivates him

Norton Jr. knows Foster's skill set, ready to see what motivates him

Robert Saleh was among the first people to call Ken Norton Jr. after he had been fired as Raiders defensive coordinator on Nov. 21.

Saleh worked under Norton for three seasons when they were on Pete Carroll’s staff with the Seattle Seahawks. Norton was the linebackers coach; Saleh was a quality control coach with an emphasis on linebackers.

This week, the 49ers hired Norton to serve under Saleh, the team’s defensive coordinator. Norton’s title is assistant head coach/inside linebackers.

“We have a fantastic relationship,” Norton said of Saleh during an interview with NBC Sports Bay Area. “In Seattle, I was the linebacker coach and he was my assistant. So I kind of taught him the ropes.

“He has a great vision of how he wanted to do things. I have a vision about how I like to do things. He really appreciated the way I treated him, the things I’ve been able to show him. And now he’s blossomed into a defensive coordinator.”

Young linebacker Reuben Foster is gaining the influence of a veteran within his position group with the addition of Norton as his position coach.

Norton, 51, played 13 NFL seasons – the final seven of which came with the 49ers. He won three Super Bowls as a player (two with Dallas, and one with the 49ers).

“He (Saleh) made it clear that they have a young player similar to the Bruce (Irvin) situation -- very talented, can really do a lot of special things,” Norton said. “And there’s no person he’d like to teach him than myself.

“So we started with that as the initial conversation. Then, it went on to the head coach and the general manager. We kept the conversation going, and this is where it ended up.”

Norton said he has not watched much of Foster’s rookie season, but he studied him a year ago as he was coming out of Alabama and into the NFL draft. The 49ers made a trade with Seattle to move up to No. 31 overall, where they selected Foster.

“Fast, smart, productive, around the ball, passionate – all the things you expect good linebackers to do,” Norton said of Foster. “He hits really hard, really physical. I haven’t had a chance to talk to him and find out what his makeup is or why he plays or what his motivation is or the things he might have planned for his career.

“That’ll be interesting to see the type of man he is. But just from everything on the surface, it looks really good. But you never know. You can never judge a book by its cover. So you have to see what he’s made of and what his motivation is.”

Norton made his motivation clear: He intends to play a role in returning the 49ers to the same level he experienced as a player. In his first season after signing with the 49ers as a free agent in 1994, the club won the Super Bowl.

“San Francisco and I go back to the good ol' days, Jerry Rice and Steve Young and all the fantastic times we’ve had,” Norton said. “(I’m) really look forward to bringing the good ol’ days back. And the things they started with a young quarterback (Jimmy Garoppolo) and with the juice and energy they put in that building, it’s really special to watch.”

T.O. 'not actively seeking' NFL return, expounds on Hall of Fame decision


T.O. 'not actively seeking' NFL return, expounds on Hall of Fame decision

Terrell Owens still is showing off the kind of spectacular shape he is in, even at 44 years old. Just look at his social media pages, and you'll see T.O. working out with today's NFL stars and running a blazing 40-yard dash. 

Even though he's about to be enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, is Owens looking to make a comeback? 

On Tuesday, Canada-based agent Jason Staroszik told TSN and ESPN that T.O. "100 percent" wants to play football again. On Wednesday at the ESPYS, the former 49ers wide receiver clarified his comments. 

Owens says he isn't "actively seeking to get into the NFL," but he did say he would entertain other opportunities with football, including the CFL. 

"I know that I do have the ability to play," Owens said, via ESPN.com. "I know everybody sees the shape that I'm in. There's a lot of athletes that play their prospective sports, but there are few guys that defy the odds. I think I'm one of those guys.

"It's unfortunate that I haven't been able to continue my career, but again, I'm not actively seeking to get into the NFL; but again, if there's an opportunity for me to play, then yeah, I will entertain that, as well as the CFL."

The hot topic with Owens lately has been his decision to not attend the Hall of Fame ceremony. Instead of being in Canton, Ohio next month, Owens will make his own speech at his alma mater, the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.

"It's always unfortunate, and people have a lot to say when someone does something different, but what I'm doing is not wrong," he said.

Owens said he has been working every day on his acceptance speech. As far as what went into his decision to not attend the ceremony, Owens looked to legendary basketball coach John Wooden. 

"For me, I think, overall, everybody's obviously wondering what went into my decision," Owens said. "I think John Wooden said it best: 'Be more concerned about your character than your reputation.' I think what the noise is right now is more about my reputation than my actual character.

"They're making the narrative more so about me offending the Hall of Famers, and that has nothing to do with it. I respect all of those Hall of Famers that have gone in before me and going in with me and after me. It has nothing to do with those Hall of Famers."

Greg Cosell believes this 49ers player is poised for a breakout season


Greg Cosell believes this 49ers player is poised for a breakout season

With the 146th pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, the San Francisco 49ers selected ...

George Kittle.

The tight end from Iowa had a solid rookie season, racking up 43 catches for 515 yards and two touchdowns.

On the latest episode of the 49ers Insider Podcast with Matt Maiocco, NFL Films senior producer Greg Cosell was talking about Kyle Shanahan and Rams head coach Sean McVay. And then, unsolicited, Cosell pivoted the conversation to Kittle.

"You know, I think one player we should mention who I really liked coming out of college -- and I know he fought some injuries last year, but I think that he has a chance to be a really meaningul part of this offense -- and that's George Kittle," Cosell said. "I think George Kittle is a really good tight end who can do a lot of things.

"He can line up and be a really good blocking tight end -- and obviously we know that Kyle's offense does start with the run game. I think he's more athletic than people probably give him credit for.

"I remember studying him coming out of Iowa and looking at some of his combine measureables -- some were superior to those of OJ Howard from Alabama, and I think people would be surprised by that.

"In this offense, he might not catch 80 balls, but he might average 14, 15 yards a catch, and for a tight end, that's pretty darn good."

Kittle had his best game in the season finale, making four catches for 100 yards at the Rams.