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 Minute Media, FanSided, Niner Noise, Insidethe49, LockedonSports, ClutchPoints, and others. Follow Chris on Twitter @cgawilson.
The opinions 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



Creating the ideal 2022 San Francisco 49ers schedule

By Wayne Breezie
May 9

As I searched the world wide web for exciting things to bring to the world, I couldn't help but draw inspiration from the great Matt Barrows of The Athletic. In a recent mailbag article, a fan presented the task of creating the ideal San Francisco 49ers schedule based on what we already know for home/away opponents. Here is my dream schedule for the 2022 49ers season. Week 1 vs. Cardinals - This would be a home game for the 49ers and must-see television. Trey Lance would get a second chance at the team that handed him his first loss. Kyler Murray vs. Lance is pay-per-view quality. Week 2 at Panthers - Now that Lance got his feet wet, he should have no problems commanding his troops against the Carolina Panthers. I



Complete 2022 San Francisco 49ers Schedule Revealed

By David Bonilla
May 12

The NFL revealed its complete 272-game 2022 regular-season schedule on Thursday at 5:00 p.m. PT. NFL Kickoff Weekend will begin on Thursday, September 8, culminating with Super Bowl LVII on February 12, 2023, at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona. The San Francisco 49ers open their season on the road against the Chicago Bears. Their first home game comes during Week 2 against the Seattle Seahawks. The Niners' bye is during Week 9. They are currently scheduled to participate in five prime-time matchups this year. San Francisco's opponents combined for a 154-135 record last season. The .533 winning percentage by opponents makes the 49ers' schedule tied with the Kansas City Chiefs for the fifth toughest in the NFL, based on last year's results, and



Why the 49ers drafted a running back in the third round

By Rohan Chakravarthi
May 6

With their first 2022 NFL Draft selection not coming until No. 61 overall, the San Francisco 49ers were required to remain patient without a first-round selection for the first time in the Lynch-Shanahan era due to last year's trade-up to select quarterback Trey Lance with the third overall pick. With that first selection, the 49ers took USC edge rusher Drake Jackson, who some analysts considered a fringe first-round talent, making it shocking that he was still available near the end of the second round. However, with their second selection at pick No. 93, the 49ers surprised many, drafting LSU running back Tyrion Davis-Price, who not only was a player at a position of low value, but also a player projected to go potentially one or two rounds later. So, why did



Are the 49ers mending their relationship with WR Deebo Samuel?

By Rohan Chakravarthi
May 6

Late Wednesday night, San Francisco 49ers fans sighed in relief as wide receiver Deebo Samuel reportedly followed the team on Instagram once again, which could be a sign that the relationship is getting back on track. Samuel, who scrubbed his account of everything 49ers related on April 7th, which was around the time of his reported trade request, was not moved during the draft as the 49ers stayed firm with their decision despite fielding multiple offers for the star receiver. Now, almost a month later, Samuel has re-followed the team, once again utilizing his power of social media to express his


Featured

More by Chris Wilson

More Articles

Share 49ersWebzone