The 49ers have said all along they would make Foster and fellow first-rounder Solomon Thomas earn starting jobs. That’s why Foster began training camp working mostly with the third team. (Foster did get some first-team work at middle linebacker last week when Navorro Bowman took a day off and Brock Coyle sat out with a rib injury.)
However, the season-ending injury to Malcolm Smith changed things for Foster, who continues to work his way back from shoulder surgery.
“Reuben, he has a lot of flash plays,” defensive coordinator Robert Saleh said a few days ago before Smith was placed on injured reserve, via Nick Wagoner of ESPN. “The best way I can explain with Reuben is he’ll get his opportunity when he absolutely, absolutely deserves it. The credit really goes to the ‘backers in that room also, that they also deserve every opportunity that they’re getting as well as him. As a group, we’re just trying to work through it and make sure that we do our best to evaluate and give them all an equal opportunity to be evaluated.”