Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports



On the eve of the San Francisco 49ers' first training camp practice of 2017, rookie linebacker Reuben Foster has been medically cleared to finally practice with his teammates, according to head coach Kyle Shanahan. Foster had a final ultrasound on Wednesday at Stanford to examine his shoulder.

Since his selection with the 31st overall pick in April's draft, there has been much talk surrounding Foster's shoulder. The rookie from Alabama was limited during the 49ers' entire offseason program as he recovered from surgery to repair a torn rotator cuff in his right shoulder. It was that surgery that caused teams to back off from selecting the college phenom who many considered to be among the top players available in the draft.

During the offseason program, Foster took part in individual drills but not in any drills that might involve contact with other players.

"That's what we have in front of us, the 2017 season," Shanahan said. "And I know from being in this league it's about what have you done lately, so one whole year can change a lot of aspects on how people think about things."

Since the selection in the draft, the 49ers have insisted that Foster would be ready for training camp. Players reported on Thursday and the team will hold their first practice at 10 a.m. on Friday. Thursday was reserved for player physicals performed by the 49ers medical staff, who are responsible for determining if anyone needed to be placed on the NFI or PUP list. According to Shanahan, no 49ers players will be placed on those lists at the start of training camp.


Foster's recovery, along with an incident where he engaged in a heated argument with a hospital worker that resulted in his dismissal from the event, prevented the linebacker from participating in the NFL Scouting Combine. While the injury may have contributed to other teams passing on the talented linebacker, both Foster and the 49ers medical staff have always felt confident about his recovery and insisted that the rookie would be ready to go for training camp.

"I would say that we pride ourselves on doing all our due diligence, not afterwards but before we make decisions and we had done exhaustive research on Reuben Foster in a lot of different areas," 49ers general manager John Lynch said on Thursday. "Medically was one area. We feel great about our doctors, about our medical program here. Our trainer Jeff Ferguson is as good as there is in the league. Our doctors, Dr. McAdams, a world renowned, Stanford name behind him, all that. We challenged him numerous times and he couldn't speak to what other people were seeing, but from his observation, the shoulder was good and what's even better is, I think it was yesterday, Reuben went and got that final ultrasound, that final test and text from Dr. McAdams that he's fully cleared and no limitations. We're excited about that."

Shanahan didn't seem too concerned that Foster missed all of the team drills during the 49ers' offseason program.

"I think he's at as good of a spot as he can be just from speaking and talking and having an understanding," Shanahan said. "What was real impressive with Reuben, which you don't always see from guys coming right out of college is to be able to sit in these long meetings and just watch stuff on the board and know you're not going to go out there and practice that day. Lots of guys, especially coming out of college, have a hard time staying awake. They can't really focus as long and especially when they know they're not playing that day.

"Reuben was very good the opposite way. He was into it. He surprised me with his knowledge of the defense, how much he paid attention, not just his position but the overall scheme. I think he's in as good of a spot as you could be without stepping on the field. Yeah, you've got to step out on the field and react and not think and that will take reps, and it'll take time, but as far as on the board and everything, he's been extremely impressive."

Foster will compete with free agent acquisition Malcolm Smith for the starting weak-side linebacker job. Smith, reportedly, was impressive during the 49ers' offseason program.

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