The sample size is small. Niners rookie linebacker Reuben Foster has appeared in just four games, and in one – the season opener – he quickly exited with an injury that sidelined him until Week 7.
But when he’s been on the field, Foster has been terrific. He’s been in on 32 tackles, been a force against the run, defended well in pass coverage and in general has showed energy, range and speed that have caused people around the NFL to notice.
In the 49ers’ victory over the Giants last week, Foster was San Francisco’s highest-graded player according to the analytic website Pro Football Focus. He had 10 tackles, including one for a loss, and one quarterback hit while getting four run stops and giving up just two completions in coverage. Among all linebackers in the league, Foster’s run-stop percentage ranks fourth.
This week, when William Moy of Pro Football Focus published his NFL rookie rankings through Week 10, Foster didn’t make the cut. However, Moy included him with an asterisk at the end of his report.
Wrote Moy: “If Foster keeps up the level of play we’ve seen from him in the past two weeks he’s going to burst into this race (for Rookie of the Year) with a force rivaled only by Jadeveon Clowney when he sees a Michigan running back. The only thing preventing Foster from placing within the top 10 in this week’s update for this season-long race is playing time. When he’s been on the field his play has been borderline elite.”
The 49ers, now 1-9, have a bye week, so Foster and his teammates are getting some extra time off before resuming play on Sunday, Nov. 26 vs. the Seattle Seahawks.