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Sergio Estrada-USA TODAY Sports

Sergio Estrada-USA TODAY Sports

Robert Saleh wants Reuben Foster to ‘get scarred’ and grow

Sep 14, 2017 at 1:23 PM--

On Tuesday, San Francisco 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh said that the injury to Reuben Foster might be a blessing in disguise for both the rookie linebacker and the team. Foster suffered a high-ankle sprain during the first quarter of the 49ers' 23-3 Week 1 loss to the Carolina Panthers.

Foster campaigned to the 49ers medical and training staff to return to that game and even said he intended to be ready for this weekend's road matchup with the Seattle Seahawks. It was later revealed that Foster will miss at least a few games due to the injury with head coach Kyle Shanahan indicating there is a possibility that the linebacker misses a month or more.

"He'll be in all the meetings," Saleh told KNBR on Tuesday. "For him to be able to sit back and absorb all the information after getting a week's worth of game time, for a rookie, believe it or not, I feel like it's almost going to be a blessing in disguise where he can just sit back. He's experienced preseason. He's experienced the game.

"And now to just watch it all from the outside, get his body back in working order where he can just kind of let things come to him rather than in the game just kind of going and going and going where he never gets to sit back and observe everything. That usually doesn't happen until their second year. For him to get this knowledge, I almost feel like it's going to be a blessing in disguise for him and the organization."

Saleh met with the media on Thursday and went into further detail on why the injury to Foster could greatly benefit the young and exciting rookie. He was asked to explain what he wants to see out of Foster during his time off of the football field.

"Learn. Just watch tape," Saleh said. "Try to take in as much information as he can. To really focus on his body to getting it right. But if he can come out of this really understanding what football ... the way we're being attacked and to be able to really see what teams do to our scheme, it would be very beneficial to him."

Saleh went on to explain that Foster does already have a good understanding of that right now but nothing compares to live reps as well as seeing and learning from watching the game. That's all Foster will be able to do for a while. He will be an observer while recovering from his injury and will have to learn without stepping foot on the football field.

"You can coach it until you are blue in the face but until you actually see it or actually even go through it ... I always mess with the [linebackers] or even defensive players in general that there's nothing like getting scarred," Saleh continued. "You never forget a scar. When you're performing a technique and you get exposed at that technique, getting scarred is what helps you grow.

"So, for him, being able to see that through his teammates ... like I always saw my brother get beat by my mom once in a while, my dad, and I'd be like, 'Darn, I'm not going to do that.' So I felt like I had great growth. I didn't actually have to go through it to learn from it."

Later, Saleh confirmed what he meant by "getting scarred." He explained that it means making mistakes and then learning from them.

"Like getting beat in man coverage," Saleh said. "Just the technique that you use and you're like, 'Darn, that technique.' Notch it up as a scar on his belt so he'll learn from it. But, hopefully, he'll recognize those from the game and just recognize what's happening to his brothers in his room and so he can learn from those – hopefully – and he should. He's a smart kid too."


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