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.

49ers legend Steve Young presents Gatorade Player of the Year Award winner


49ers legend Steve Young presents Gatorade Player of the Year Award winner

Sophie Jones runs the soccer field, both literally and figuratively. 

She tallied 18 goals, 16 assists and 1.55 points per game for the Knights of Menlo School in Atherton, Calif. Those stats helped lift her team to a 20-win season, which turned into a Central Coast Section Division 1 tournament title.

With those achievements, Jones walked away with the Gatorade National Girls Soccer Player of the Year honor Wednesday. 

A friend presented the senior with the trophy -- but not just any friend: 49ers Hall of Fame quarterback Steve Young.

"It's such an honor, and I can't believe they chose me," Jones said in Gatorade's promotional presentation video.

Jones also maintains solid numbers off the field, with a 3.65 GPA that helps her be recruited by some of the nation's top athletic programs. According to Gatorade, she plans to attend Duke later this year.

A "stellar human being with a fierce inner strength," as her teachers describe her, Jones also volunteers for a U-14 youth soccer team and the Boys and Girls Club, and has worked at the Special Olympics Buddy Program. That shows in her playing abilities on the field as well, with her coach saying he's never witnessed such a selfless player.

"Sophie worked tirelessly to elevate her game year after year, becoming high-impact talent," said Chad Konecky, Gatorade Player of the Year director. "She wins balls, finishes, defends, disrupts and creates in transition, and arguably reads the game as well as any U-20 player in the world."

Young complimented Jones, calling the achievement an exciting one -- and one that very few have ever done. 

Congrats, Sophie!

49ers' Mitch Wishnowsky has deep repertoire of punts from Aussie rules days


49ers' Mitch Wishnowsky has deep repertoire of punts from Aussie rules days

Mitch Wishnowsky admits he could have been more consistent during the 49ers’ recently concluded offseason program.

The rookie punter, at his best, was very good and gave his teammates and coaches a reason to believe a fourth-round draft pick spent on a punter was a worthy investment.

The 49ers selected the native of Australia with the No. 110 overall selection. General manager John Lynch opted to fill the spot vacated when Bradley Pinion signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, rather than select a defensive back or an offensive lineman.

Wishnowsky has an assortment of different punts, which he picked up playing a sport in which punters are not considered specialists. Everyone must learn to punt, oftentimes while on the move, in the game Wishnowsky played back home.

“A lot of the punts you sort of learn growing up playing Australian rules football,” Wishnowsky said on the 49ers Insider Podcast. “There’s tradeoffs with every punt.”

Wishnowsky explained his different styles:

“The stock-standard end-over-end punt is a lot more accurate but you can’t get quite as much height or distance on it.

“The spiral, obviously, is the biggest ball. It goes the highest and the furthest.

“The helicopter punt is great, very hard to catch. You can’t kick it quite as far as the spiral. But if you slightly mishit it, it’s going the opposite direction that you want it to.”

Wishnowsky moved to California to punt on the Santa Barbara City College football team in 2014. He transferred to the University of Utah, where he won the 2016 Ray Guy Award and was the only three-time finalist in the history of the award.

The only downside of his final college season was three blocked punts, something he worked to eliminate during his offseason with the 49ers.

“I’ve got to get the ball off in 1.3 seconds, which is what I’ve been doing pretty consistently,” Wishnowsky said. “And the snap is a .7. So if the whole operation is 2 seconds or below, you should be good. Then, also launch point. You want to pretty much as it hits your foot (you’re) directly behind the snapper, so you’re not at risk of getting it blocked.”

[RELATED: Why No. 2 QB job between Beathard and Mullens is toss-up entering camp]

Wishnowsky also will be the 49ers’ holder and, likely, handle kickoff duties. He said he has yet to speak with veteran kicker Robbie Gould, who remains unsigned as the team’s franchise player. Gould has demanded a trade. The 49ers said they will not trade him.

In the meantime, Jonathan Brown, who spent the three previous offseasons with the Cincinnati Bengals and has not appeared in an NFL regular-season game, was the only kicker in Santa Clara.

“The last two years, I’ve been with Matt (Gay), who was drafted to Tampa Bay (in the fifth round),” Wishnowsky said. “I’ve been around great kickers, and Jon is up there. He’s phenomenal the way he contacts the ball. Jon is a very impressive kicker.”