Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports



Rookie San Francisco 49ers linebacker Reuben Foster has missed three games since suffering a high-ankle sprain during Week 1 against the Carolina Panthers. He will miss his fourth-straight game when the 49ers face the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday. However, Foster's playing drought may be coming close to an end.

Foster continues to work hard on his rehabilitation and has been held out of team practices since his injury. He started running last week and has been warming up with his teammates prior to practices before exiting to a side field for rehabilitation.

Fans are eager to see the exciting young player return to the football field. Despite being the second of the 49ers' first-round selections, Foster has garnered the majority of the attention because of his perceived high ceiling. Fans want to see him paired up alongside linebacker NaVorro Bowman to possibly create the best linebacker duo the 49ers have seen since Bowman and Patrick Willis.

On Friday morning, 49ers general manager John Lynch joined the "Mornings with Joe, Lo and Dibs" show on 95.7 The Game and was asked how close Foster is to returning.

"He's getting better," Lynch said. "He really is. I think we've all watched these special athletes and I think we've come to know, in short order, that's exactly what Reuben is. It's what drew us to him in the draft. He's also a special kid. He wants to play football in the worst way and that's what he's accustomed to doing.

"He wants to be out there right now but I think it's our job -- we let our medical staff do it -- but I think Kyle and I have both have said, 'Listen, as much as we need Reuben right now, we need him to be 100-percent healthy when he comes back.' We don't want him limping. We don't want him compromised out there because he's going to be a big part of our future going forward and we need him out there at full health.

"So, that's frustrating for the young man. He wants to get out there and contribute and be part of the reason we start winning but we've got to make sure he's right and he's drawing near to that. I watched him out here go through an extensive workout yesterday and then you've got to see how he responds. We are optimistic that it's not far away. As to when that is, I'm not exactly sure."

On Friday morning, 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan told KNBR listeners he believes Foster, along with safety Eric Reid, might have a chance at returning next week against the Washington Redskins.

"He hasn't practiced with us yet," Shanahan said. "We're going to hopefully get him back to practice next week. Hopefully him and Eric. It's not for sure but our goal is next Wednesday to get him out there and see how it goes. I think they'll have a chance for next week (against Washington)."

Foster was selected with the 31st overall selection in the 2017 NFL Draft after the 49ers made defensive lineman Solomon Thomas the third-overall pick. The 49ers traded back into the first round to select the linebacker.

As a senior at Alabama in 2016, Foster finished with 115 tackles, 13 for losses, and five sacks. He was awarded the Butkus Award, which is given to the nation's best linebacker. The 6-foot, 229-pound Foster had 211 tackles, 23 of which were for a loss, seven sacks, and nine passes defensed in three years with Alabama.