In less than one quarter of playing time, 49ers rookie linebacker Reuben Foster gave fans a glimpse of the future.
The former Alabama star showed great range in making three tackles and just missing an interception in less than 12 minutes of play — just 11 defensive snaps — in a season-opening 23-3 loss to the Carolina Panthers back in September.
At first the injury appeared it might be season-ending, as he was carted off the field. But later it was revealed he had a high ankle sprain. He vowed to return as quickly as possible, and at first promised to play in Game No. 2 against the Seahawks.
But Foster has missed every game since as the Niners have dropped to 0-5. Now, however, Foster is back on the field and could return to play this Sunday at Washington.
Foster returned to practice Wednesday— as did safety Eric Reid — in Santa Clara and told reporters afterward that he’s eager to get back to playing. He reportedly looked good Wednesday, moving well and at full speed.
Head coach Kyle Shanahan told the media he’s not making any decision yet on whether Foster can return Sunday.
“They’ve looked good at doing rehab stuff, but you really never known about these guys until they get out into team drills, not just individual, are in movement with 22 guys out there,” Shanahan said of Foster and Reid, according to Cam Inman of the Bay Area News Group. “Really trying not to decide until I can see with my own eyes. … When we see how they move around, then we’ll make our decision.”
Foster didn’t participate fully in drills Wednesday, but that could change Thursday. Yet Shanahan may take a cautious approach. He said that just because Foster is back at practice doesn’t guarantee “he’s going to play on Sunday.”
The 49ers are set to fly cross-country this weekend for a matchup against 2-2 Washington Sunday. Kickoff is set for 10 a.m. in the Bay Area.