Sergio Estrada-USA TODAY Sports

Sergio Estrada-USA TODAY Sports



The San Francisco 49ers planned to eventually play rookie linebacker Reuben Foster at the Mike linebacker position. However, Foster has been spending a lot of time playing at the Will linebacker spot with Brock Coyle filling in at Mike.

Foster is seen as a natural Mike linebacker. After all, that's where he played during his college career at Alabama.

"We think Brock Coyle is one of the better communicators on this defense," 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh said last week. "Being able to get the close call and all that. When you have a guy, who can command the huddle, set the closed call, make all the checks, that puts 10 other people at ease. Not to say Reuben can't do it because he does a great job with it. But, having him and Reuben on the field at the same time being able to talk to the people around them and also allowing Reuben to focus on just being a football player was the main deciding factor."

Sunday's game was just the fourth in Foster's young NFL career and was only his second complete game. During the past two games, Foster has been credited with 24 combined tackles. He also earned the team's best grade from Pro Football Focus despite dealing with an ongoing ankle injury suffered during Week 1.

On Monday, 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan was asked if Foster could find a permanent home at the Will linebacker spot rather than the Mike.

"Yeah, I think it's possible," Shanahan answered. "I don't think it matters much for Rueben. I think wherever he stays at and gets work at, he's going to be pretty good at it. It's just where do we think he can be the most effective? He played Mike linebacker throughout college. I do think he's a natural Mike. He has the natural charisma and command of the huddle of the defense.

"You know, missing a lot of time this year and getting thrown in there, I think it makes it easier for him to play fast, not having to worry about all the communication and help everyone get lined up and make the calls and stuff. So, I think right now it helps him play the most freely at Will position.

"I think we'll evaluate that in the offseason and see where he's best. The more work he gets, I know Mike will become second nature to him. We'll see how it is with our roster next year with all the other linebackers and we'll do what's best for our team, which I think will also be best for Rueben. He gives you options."