Reuben Foster's offseason plan: Work on strength, tackling technique


Reuben Foster's offseason plan: Work on strength, tackling technique

SANTA CLARA – There were reports that some NFL teams believed linebacker Reuben Foster would require surgery before ever playing in an NFL game.

On Sunday, Foster will play his ninth game of his rookie season and he said he will not need any kind of offseason surgery on his right shoulder. Foster said his offseason will consist of work with Ray Wright, the team’s strength and conditioning coach, and following the direction of head athletic trainer Jeff Ferguson.

“No procedure, just listen to the strength and conditioning coach and really train and just listen to Ferg and do what they ask me to do,” Foster said.

Foster, whom the 49ers chose with the No. 31 overall pick, missed five games early in the season due to a high ankle sprain. He missed another game due to a ribs injury.

In the past two games, Foster left the lineup after sustaining stingers in his neck and shoulder area. But those issues were not related to the surgery he underwent on his right rotator cuff, 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said this week.

“The shoulder did not cause any problems, at all,” Foster said. “It’s football. You catch the wrong hit, angle, whatever. It’s a little stinger. It’s no biggie.”

Foster is second on the 49ers with 67 tackles, ranking behind only cornerback Dontae Johnson. Foster admits he will likely have to change his hard-hitting tackling style to maximize his career.

“I need to learn more technique,” Foster said. “Anybody wants to blow through somebody. I got to learn the fundamentals and what the coaches say and get on my technique.”

Foster said he expects to benefit from an entire offseason of working out, rather than merely rehabbing from surgery.

“It’s going to be hard to change my style of play, but that will come with the offseason of getting the right shoulder strength and traps (trapezius) and getting dialed in on body maintenance,” Foster said. “Not holding the shoulder surgery against me, but that I need that training and to find a way to play aggressive and not hurt myself.”

Defensive coordinator Robert Saleh believes Foster can adjust his game to dish it more punishment while not experiencing the down side of those big collisions.

“This is going to sound ludicrous in a way, but I think he can be even more explosive and more violent when he hits with proper technique," Saleh said. "When he learns to run his feet through contact he’s going to destroy people, without hurting himself. That’s something that he’s got to work on through the offseason is how to tackle the right way, because when you see him he just throws his entire body in there.

"But if he learns to actually accelerate through contact with his shoulder through the sternum or shoulder through the thigh, those hits will just be what’s already explosive will be even twice that. There’s an element that he needs to work on with regards to his technique and tackling to not put his body at so much risk and I truly believe when he does figure it out it’ll be even more explosive.”

Why Greg Cosell believes Jimmy Garoppolo needs work on his 'quarterback feet'


Why Greg Cosell believes Jimmy Garoppolo needs work on his 'quarterback feet'

Greg Cosell, a senior producer at NFL Films, believes 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo “has a chance to be a top-level quarterback.” But there remains room for improvement from the player the 49ers awarded a franchise-record contract in the offseason.

Garoppolo has a quick release and can throw at a number of different arm angles to avoid oncoming pass-rushers. And while his accuracy underneath was unquestioned during his 5-0 run as the 49ers’ starter last season, most of the time, his deep throws did not reach the target.

Garoppolo completed just 4 of 16 attempts to targets 20 yards or more down the field last season for 134 yards and no touchdowns with no interceptions, according to Pro Football Focus.

[RELATED: Greg Cosell: Kyle Shanahan does one thing 'better than any coach in the NFL']

During the offseason program, Garoppolo appeared to struggle on his deep throws, too. Cosell, a guest on the 49ers Insider Podcast, spoke about Garoppolo’s mechanics.

“Because he has very quick feet, I think people just assume he has great feet all the time when he delivers the ball,” Cosell said. “There’s a difference between having quick, athletic feet and having really good quarterback feet. And I think he needs to work on the quarterback feet part.

“I think guys who have that kind of snap delivery, sometimes they don’t step exactly to their throw and they throw a little bit off-balance, and that could really impact your accuracy to a significant degree. So my guess is those are the kinds of things they’ve worked on. Those are tweaks. I don’t think it will prevent him from being a really good player.”

Garoppolo appeared in six games with five starts last season after the 49ers acquired him for a second-round draft pick in a trade with the New England Patriots. Garoppolo completed 120 of 178 pass attempts (67.4 percent) for 1,580 yards and seven touchdowns with five interceptions.

Cosell said it is important for all quarterbacks to use consistent mechanics when making throws from a clean pocket.

“Think of a major league pitcher,” Cosell said. “They theoretically should throw the ball the same way every time. So should a quarterback unless the defense dictates otherwise. If the defense doesn’t dictate otherwise, the throws should look the same.”

Greg Cosell: Kyle Shanahan does one thing 'better than any coach in the NFL'


Greg Cosell: Kyle Shanahan does one thing 'better than any coach in the NFL'

There is a lot of hope surrounding the 49ers entering the 2018 season.

Much of that is because of Jimmy Garoppolo.

Much of that also is because of Kyle Shanahan.

"Kyle is one of the most innovative and creative offensive minds in football," cornerback Richard Sherman said back in mid-March after he signed with the 49ers.

On the most recent episode of the 49ers Insider Podcast with Matt Maiocco, NFL Films senior producer Greg Cosell offered some high praise for San Francisco's head coach.

"When you look at a Kyle Shanahan offense, I think the thing that stands out the most -- that he does better than any coach in the NFL -- is the fusion between the run game and the pass game," Cosell said. "The run game and the pass game with their play-action concepts look exactly the same.

"And it's very, very difficult for defenses to differentiate the two very often until it's too late. And when you have a quarterback like Garoppolo -- who tends to be a quick decision-maker, a quick processor, he has a very quick compact delivery and then the ball gets out -- I think that just makes it even more difficult."

The 49ers won all five of Garoppolo's starts last season and put up 26, 25, 44 and 34 points in the last four games, respectively. Garoppolo was rewarded with a five-year, $137.5 million deal ($74.1 million guaranteed) -- which drastically increases the expectations.

Garoppolo and Shanahan could become one of the top head coach-quarterback duos for many years.

"When you talk to defensive coaches around the league, they will talk about Kyle Shanahan as one of the two or three of the best in the league when it comes to offensive design and game planning," Cosell added.