SANTA CLARA – Linebacker Reuben Foster entered his rookie season with a lot of expectations and more than a few concerns.
While he has been a productive player whenever he’s been on the field, Foster missed six games due to injuries -- a high-ankle sprain and bruised ribs. But none of his time missed has been connected to right shoulder surgery he underwent before the draft.
Four other times, Foster has required medical attention on the field, only to return to action without missing any significant playing time.
“I mean the guy just wants to kill people,” 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh said on Thursday. “So sometimes he kills himself for a play.
“He hits the daylights out of people. Every once in a while, he’s going to get something where he might have to take a breather. It’s been a while since I’ve seen someone who hits as hard as he does. I think after a full offseason where he can just build his body instead of having to rehab, eat right and do things the right way, I think he’ll avoid some of those injuries as he gets smarter in the game.”
Foster had the wind knocked out of him two weeks ago when Houston Texans running back Lamar Miller hit him in the midsection as he was blitzing. Last week, Foster missed two snaps of defense due to a neck stinger.
Sorry, 49ers fans, but Mike Garafolo is here to harsh your mellow.
The NFL Media reporter recently said on TSN's "SC with Jay and Dan" that there's no sense the 49ers will strongly pursue a trade for Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown. In fact, the whole notion of a deal is being driven by Brown and a 49ers legend.
"I'm told it's just Jerry Rice and Antonio Brown, who are pretty tight, putting this out there, trying to lay the groundwork for it," Garafolo said on the Canadian sports show. "The 49ers really haven't pursued it to that extent. The Steelers really haven't had any trade talks with teams at this point, so this is still going to develop going forward."
Rice has said Brown badly wants to play for the 49ers and that the team should "go for it," but the decision rests with general manager John Lynch, who remains silent on the topic. 49ers fans, however, have been vocal about their desire to have Brown on the team, so between that and a Hall of Famer's prodding, perhaps momentum toward a move can be made.
But there's more ...
Garafolo added that the Steelers aren't ruling out Brown staying with the team, although it will take some "groveling" from the receiver. And if we know anything about NFL stars who reportedly cause locker-room rifts, demand trades and drop social media hints about joining other teams, it's that groveling isn't part of the equation.
Until the Steelers publicly say Brown isn't going anywhere -- and owner Art Rooney had that chance earlier this week --- 49ers fans will continue to dream. After all, the GOAT has spoken.
Antonio Brown sent a tweet that he claimed was a thank you, not a goodbye, to Pittsburgh Steelers fans.
It sure as heck read like a farewell letter, though.
Brown's Saturday night Twitter post featured a video of him being carried off with a calf injury in a 2017 game against the Patriots, with Steelers fans loudly cheering him, along with a message.
It's unlikely those same fans now would rain down MVP chants on Brown, who has made it clear he's ready for a new team. So whether this tweet simply was an attempt to mend fences with Pittsburgh fans or a sign that a trade indeed is in the works remains to be seen. Responses to the tweet speculated about both possibilities.
Fans across the NFL, including those in the Bay, are salivating at the prospect of Brown taking the top of defenses for their teams. In particular, Brown added to the 49ers' 2019 core of Jimmy Garroppolo, Jerick McKinnon and George Kittle sounds enticing, but the pending transaction price and the real root of the wide receiver's beef in Pittsburgh aren't known.
Brown's recent Twitter activity seem to indicate he has the 49ers on his mind, and that idea also has Hall of Fame-level supporters. Turning that idea into reality, though, likely will be harder than it seems. It always is when All-Pro talent, reported locker-room fractures and trade demands are involved.
So The Faithful wait. Still.