SANTA CLARA — Rookie linebacker Reuben Foster needs to change his tackling technique so he won’t destroy his body.
That’s what 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan said on Monday.
Here’s what defensive coordinator Robert Saleh said about Foster on Thursday.
“This is going to sound ludicrous, but I think he can be even more explosive and more violent when he hits with proper technique. When he learns to run his feet through contact, he’s going to destroy people without hurting himself.
“Foster just throws his entire body in there. If he learns to actually accelerate through contact with his shoulder through the sternum or the thigh, what’s already explosive will be even twice that.
“When you leave your feet, you lose all your power, all that acceleration you built up to get to that contact point. I’m a big golfer, so it’d be like decelerating at the ball. You might still hit the ball 250 (yards), but if you accelerated through contact with all the right technique, that ball might go another 25 yards.”
Foster has injured his ankle, ribs and neck so far this season. He had to sit out temporarily during five games and missed six games entirely. He missed none the past two seasons at Alabama.
“They helped me a lot at ’Bama with my tackling technique,” Foster said. “That’s why I didn’t have any problems at ‘Bama. (In the NFL), there are bigger guys. It’s a faster sport. So, of course you’ve got to get bigger, faster and take care of your body.”
Foster said he plans to model his tackling technique after Seattle Seahawks middle linebacker Bobby Wagner.
“He uses his hands a lot. He’s a great linebacker. I look forward to seeing his past film to see how he made it. He plays in the same system as me, so that’s perfect.”
THOMAS UP FOR WEEKLY AWARD
The NFL nominated rookie defensive lineman Solomon Thomas for the Pepsi Rookie of the Week Award.
Thomas recorded six tackles, one tackle for loss and one sack Sunday against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
“He played with an edge to him (against Jacksonville),” Saleh said. “He has played with an edge to him all year, but he was making plays. He was productive. He was getting off blocks. I think he’s really starting to recover from that injury that he suffered earlier in the year, and we’re really starting to see what we saw in the first half of the season.”
Thomas sprained his MCL Week 8 when the 49ers played the Philadelphia Eagles. Since he returned from the injury, he has recorded 14 tackles in five games.
How would Saleh assess Thomas’ growth over the course of the season?
“I’m very pleased,” Saleh said. “I think we all are, really. He’s a very explosive athlete. He plays really good with his hands. He gets knock-back in the run game. There’s the developmental part with regards to consistency in pass rush, which I think he’ll reach. I’m not really concerned about it.”
Thomas was the third player taken in the draft, and has recorded only three sacks in 13 games this season while playing both defensive end and defensive tackle.