Sergio Estrada-USA TODAY Sports

Sergio Estrada-USA TODAY Sports


49ers linebacker Reuben Foster is the new heart of San Francisco’s defense

Chris Wilson
Sep 16, 2017 at 4:22 PM0



For the first 11 minutes of the 2017 NFL season, the San Francisco 49ers looked like a new team -- until rookie linebacker Reuben Foster was carted off the field due to a leg injury. It took less than a quarter of regular-season football, but Foster has already become the new heart of the Niners' defense.

Sunday's Week-1 matchup between the San Francisco 49ers and the Carolina Panthers was a tale of two games. Prior to Foster's injury near the end of the first quarter, the Panthers' offense accumulated just one first down and a total of 14 yards.

As Foster laid on the ground in pain, the home crowd's silence was deafening, and the body language of his teammates told the same story. One play later, Carolina scored a 40-yard touchdown, and the game was as good as over.

Not since 49ers wide receiver Kyle Williams' punt-return fumble in the 2011 NFC Championship Game had there been such a collective feeling of despair from a 49er crowd after a single play. Levi's stadium wasn't filled to capacity on Sunday, but the fans who attended were both loud and full of hope -- until they witnessed Foster being carted off the field.

For the remainder of the game, the 49ers missed Foster on the field, but they missed him in spirit as well -- even after he returned limping to the sideline to cheer on his teammates. The San Francisco 49ers aren't the same team without their star rookie; it's no coincidence that the Panther offense's 14 longest plays of the game -- and all of their 23 points -- took place after Foster was relegated to the sideline.

Scott Strazzante-The Chronicle


Fellow linebacker NaVorro Bowman is still the true leader of the 49ers' defense. But just as Patrick Willis' leadership, mentorship, and friendship helped mold a young Bowman into an All-Pro, Bowman must now do the same for his new protégé -- because Foster is the 49ers' future and their present.

Carolina's final drive of the game was further testament to Foster's importance to the San Francisco 49ers. After stopping yet another failed fourth-down attempt by the home team, the Panthers started their drive on their own 1-yard line, with eight minutes and 48 seconds left on the clock.

The 49ers never touched the ball again.

The Carolina Panthers didn't disguise their intentions, and they didn't consider attempting a pass; they simply ran the ball down their opponent's throat. 13 plays later, the game was over -- with the new heart of the San Francisco 49ers' defense watching helplessly from the sideline.
  • Chris Wilson
  • Written by:
    You may have seen Chris Wilson's work on NFL game theory, statistical analysis, and film breakdowns at FanSided, Niner Noise, Insidethe49, LockedonSports, ClutchPoints, and others. Follow Chris on Twitter @cgawilson.
The views within this article are those of the writer and, while just as important, are not necessarily those of the site as a whole.


0 Comments

  • No Comments

Facebook Comments



More San Francisco 49ers News



John Lynch expects to keep Fred Warner, calls linebacker a 'big part of the fabric' of the 49ers

By David Bonilla
Jan 4, 2021

San Francisco 49ers fans started to get a little worried last year as the season drew closer and All-Pro tight end George Kittle still didn't have a contract extension. That all got resolved around mid-August, though. Could the 49ers be facing a similar challenge with linebacker Fred Warner, who is preparing to enter the final year of his rookie deal? Obviously, general manager John Lynch and head coach Kyle Shanahan would prefer to lock up their young defensive star for the foreseeable future, and they expect that to happen. That doesn't mean extending Warner will be easy. The 49ers will need to reward the linebacker financially while juggling the complexities of a shrinking salary cap. "We talk about challenges, and those challenges are there,"

Read the Full Article


Decision on new Panthers GM expected this week; 49ers' Adam Peters among final 4 candidates

By David Bonilla
Jan 13, 2021

The Carolina Panthers announced that the team expects to reach a decision on its new general manager this week. This comes after the organization whittled down its list of candidates from 15 to four. San Francisco 49ers VP of player personnel Adam Peters was among the 15 to interview virtually with the Panthers and was among the four to meet in-person with team brass this week. The other three are Tennessee Titans director of player personnel Monti Ossenfort, Kansas City Chiefs assistant director of player personnel Ryan Poles, and Seattle Seahawks vice president of football operations Scott Fitterer. "Peters has the closest links to the people on the

Read the Full Article


Mortensen: Most insiders believe 49ers will move on from Jimmy Garoppolo if there's a better QB option

By David Bonilla
Jan 3, 2021

This probably won't come as a surprise to anyone. If the 49ers have an opportunity to upgrade at a position, they will try to do so — salary cap permitting. That's pretty much a given, and head coach Kyle Shanahan has said that the team will always look to improve, no matter the position. That includes quarterback. "You can't say anything with certainty," Shanahan said last week. "I mean, you don't sit here and make promises on anything. When we build a football team, it's your job to put the best team together year in and year out." While Shanahan and general manager John Lynch have expressed confidence that Jimmy Garoppolo will be

Read the Full Article

Featured

More Featured Stories

More by Chris Wilson

All Articles by Chris Wilson

More Articles

All Articles
Share 49erswebzone