On Thursday, San Francisco 49ers linebacker Reuben Foster was named the NFL's Defensive Rookie of the Month. He played three games in November and accumulated 30 tackles.

The Sacramento Bee noted that Foster is the fifth 49ers rookie to win the award. The previous four were Andre Carter, Patrick Willis, Aldon Smith, and Chris Borland.

Before November, Foster appeared in just two games this season due to injuries. He sustained a high-ankle sprain during Week 1 against the Carolina Panthers. Foster returned for the 49ers' Week 7 matchup against the Dallas Cowboys but left that game with a rib injury.

49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh spoke with reporters on Thursday and discussed Foster earning the distinction.

"When we drafted him, I thought if he could stay healthy, he'd be the Rookie of the Year," Saleh said. "No question the defense is built for linebackers to run and hit and get tackles, so for him to gobble them up the way he has, it's not a surprise. He's a very talented and instinctual player. He's very explosive, so the sky's the limit.

"He hasn't even scratched the surface too. If he continues going the way he has, it's only going to get better."

Everyone has room for improvement. Foster is no different. Saleh shared areas where he believes the linebacker can improve.

"The consistency, like all rookies," Saleh said. "Continue working on his hands and block protection. These linemen get on you faster. They're stronger than they were in college so you can't always just dip and rip. You've got to use your hands to create extension, get them off you. And his footwork in the box. But other than that, just play recognition, and instincts, and all that stuff that comes with it. It's going to take reps.

"Shoot, everyone has a little bit to improve on too, but he's going in the right direction. That's the cool thing."



What did Foster think of being named Defensive Rookie of the Month?

"There's more out there for everybody," he told reporters before Thursday's practice. "I want it all. I'm hungry. I'm greedy. But at the end of the day, anything is a blessing. If I would have got first quarter rookie of the defense, I would have been happy for that because guess what? They nominated me for something. So I'm happy with whatever they give me."


Foster also understands that he has room for improvement and identified some of the same key areas as his defensive coordinator.

"There's a lot of things to work on," Foster said. "Hand placement, hit and shed, better tackling, better running to the ball. It's constantly a lot of things that you can get better at ... You've got to use your hands. You might have messed up hands, but you've got to play it tough. It's crazy how it's a big difference from college to the NFL because everybody uses their hands. Everybody is violent, at the top of the top."