Reuben Foster to Washington is just football being football


Reuben Foster to Washington is just football being football

Well, that didn’t take long.

Reuben Foster’s unemployment has lasted a day, and he is every bit a National Football League linebacker as we was three days ago.

Foster, who was released by the San Francisco 49ers on Monday after another physical incident with his ex-girlfriend, was claimed off waivers by Washington. Presumably, terms will be reached, he will be a football player again, and his new bosses will convince themselves that they will help Foster as he helps them.

And maybe it will be so. Whatever will be of service to his long-term health is the optimal result.

[RELATED: Foster on Commissioner Exempt list]

But that isn’t what this is about, and we all know it. Washington needs a linebacker, and Foster needs a job. It’s a football problem, solved by football people, thinking football ways.

Oh, Washington put out the standard statement saying how it will comply with all the steps Foster needs to take to make himself a more complete human being, but we’ve seen the statement before, a hundred times. It seems well-meaning, but it is pure by-the-numbers justification.

The non-football problem remains because that’s the one that football people don’t have any feel for, and that’s the hard work nobody wants to take on because it is too hard. Washington will use Foster for as long as it can trust him enough to play him, and then they’ll move on just as the 49ers did.

And don’t forget that the 49ers released Foster because they couldn’t trust him any more. Kyle Shanahan said as much in his 23-minute explanation of why the team’s affection for him finally had been trumped by his inability to deal with his off-field choices.

As for Foster’s new gig, it might be better for all involved if it were put on hold, but there is no sure way for anyone to know if hold is a better place. Most people focus on the reward/punishment angle, and Foster having a new job so soon after losing the old one seems to most folks to be unfair — and like football being football for the umpteenth time.

But the league’s track record on this is poor, because it wants people to believe that football is curative by design when it is only curative by accident. At times like these, with situations like Foster’s, it is too cynical a profession to solve problems of violence. It is, frankly, too violent a profession as well.

Beyond that, this isn’t about Foster’s well-being at all, or the well-being of those women he will meet from here on out. This is really about Washington, and what its end-game is. Traditionally, the football team’s end-game is to solve a short-term problem; it needs a linebacker, the sooner the better. Reuben Foster is available to them, under hideous circumstances but available nonetheless. So, problem addressed.

Washington’s problem. Football’s problem.

And that is why in the end football isn’t capable of delivering a solution to what really ails Reuben Foster and the people he has hurt. The NFL has been unwilling to admit the limits of its therapeutic value because it gets in the way of the football-solves-everything mythmaking, and it has been unwilling to say that it really doesn’t care one way or the other.

So it chooses to show that it cares about Foster the way a carpenter cares about a nine-pound hammer — as a tool that might serve a purpose, or be disposed of in the trying.

That’s where we are at here, and all the outrage on either side is just noise. Foster is a linebacker, nothing more, nothing less, and his only way to getting healthy so that the women around him can remain so will neither be served by his playing, or not playing. Washington has helped itself because, well, that’s what teams do. He has a new team to play for because, well, that’s what he does.

And in the end, what we have is a story that has moved too fast for anyone’s comfort. Reuben Foster was a 49er, but he kept hitting women, so the 49ers got rid of him and now he plays for someone else even though the problem of him hitting women hasn't been addressed. The 30-hour visual is off-putting, but it is only because nobody is trying to pretend any longer that this is anything other than football being football for the umpteenth time.

Four 49ers players to watch in NFL Week 15 game vs. Seahawks

Four 49ers players to watch in NFL Week 15 game vs. Seahawks

Kyle Shanahan has been around for the past three games of the Seattle Seahawks’ dominance over the 49ers.

He'd prefer not to be reminded of an ongoing streak next season.

“Regardless of whether I’ve been here for two years or since 2013, I don’t like having to answer that question,” the coach said on "49ers Game Plan," which airs Saturday at 7 p.m. on NBC Bay Area (Ch. 3).

“I don’t want to hear it for another year, that it’s been that long since the 49ers have beaten them. I’d like to only have to talk about that until Sunday and then not have to talk about it again.”

For the record, the Seahawks have beaten the 49ers in 10 consecutive head-to-head matchups, beginning with the victory in the NFC Championship game after the 2013 regular season. The Seahawks blasted the 49ers 43-16 two weeks ago in Seattle.

Here are four 49ers players to watch in the rematch Sunday at Levi’s Stadium:

QB Nick Mullens

Mullens threw for 300 yards against the Seahawks just two weeks ago.

Let’s clarify: Mullens threw for 300 yards against the Seahawks just two weeks ago ... in the second half.

Mullens finished with 414 passing yards, but nearly three-quarters of those yards came after halftime when the 49ers were hopelessly behind. Mullens will make his sixth consecutive start when the Seahawks come to Levi’s Stadium, and the 49ers must get off to a better start.

Mullens has thrown for 746 yards in the past two weeks. He ranks behind only Jimmy Garoppolo for most passing yards in his first five starts, and he has placed himself in an advantageous position to challenge C.J. Beathard for the backup role next season.

He even has caught the eye of Hall of Famer Joe Montana, who recognized that Mullens generally has been making good decisions.

“He knows he has to continue to do the things that he knows he can do and not try to become a player that he’s not,” Montana said.

SS Marcell Harris

Harris made his first NFL start two weeks ago in Seattle. It was a rough outing, as he missed three tackles, but his play dramatically improved last week with some big stops in the 49ers’ win over the Denver Broncos.

Harris will play close to the line of scrimmage, and he figures to be a major factor in the 49ers’ bid to slow down the Seahawks’ running game.

“I’m going to redeem myself with tackling, most definitely,” Harris said. “The first game I came out of, I felt like I didn’t do well. From here on out, that’s one of my biggest keys. Keep moving forward and keep stacking these games on top of each other.”

NT D.J. Jones

Jones replaced veteran nose tackle Earl Mitchell in the starting lineup last week, and he appeared to add some spark with his young legs. Broncos running back Phillip Lindsay was one of the hottest runners in the league, but the 49ers held him to 30 yards on 14 carries.

The 49ers’ defense will face a challenge against the Seahawks after yielding 168 rushing yards to them two weeks ago. Running backs Chris Carson, Rashaad Penny and Mike Davis all have been used with success. Quarterback Russell Wilson also is a threat with his legs.

Jones likely will see the most action at nose tackle on base downs for the remainder of the season to show whether he's capable of being a starter next season.

TE George Kittle

After his 210-yard receiving game against the Broncos, Kittle isn't sneaking up on anyone. He already has put together the most prolific season for any tight end in 49ers history.

Kittle has been the 49ers’ most consistent offensive threat with 69 receptions for 1,103 yards and four touchdowns. Two weeks ago in Seattle, he caught six passes for 70 yards.

49ers-Seahawks injury report: Jaquiski Tartt out for second consecutive game


49ers-Seahawks injury report: Jaquiski Tartt out for second consecutive game

SANTA CLARA — The 49ers will face the Seattle Seahawks without safety Jaquiski Tartt, who will sit out for the second week in a row. 

This will be the sixth game that Tartt has missed over the course of the season while dealing with a re-occurring shoulder injury. Marcell Harris and Antone Exum Jr. will reprise their roles at the safety positions as a result. 

Harris had a much improved performance in the team’s win over the Broncos, exemplifying the learning curve that was expected by coach Robert Saleh. 

[RELATED: 49ers rookie Harris gets quick chance for redemption vs. Seahawks]

Wide receivers Marquise Goodwin and Dante Pettis are questionable, which is a better sign than being downgraded, after being limited in practice this week. Expect to still see Kendrick Bourne in the lineup frequently, as well as tight end George Kittle working in as a receiving weapon. 

Running back Matt Breida also is questionable, but with solid performances by rookie Jeff Wilson over the last few weeks, there is less pressure to get him onto the field. His snap counts could be limited. 

Good news for the offense is that all offensive linemen are off the injury report. That could help their ability to work against a Seahawks front seven that held the 49ers to 66 yards on the ground in their first matchup. 

49ers injury report

S Jaquiski Tartt 

RB Matt Breida
WR Marquise Goodwin
LB Mark Nzeocha
WR Dante Pettis
CB K’Waun Williams
DL Cassius Marsh

Seahawks injury report 

S Maurice Alexander 
RB Rashaad Penny
LB K.J. Wright

G D.J. Fluker

WR Doug Baldwin 
S Bradley McDougald
DT Jarran Reed