Reuben Foster likely won’t be playing in the NFL anytime soon.
But his chances at playing again this season improved slightly after getting claimed off waivers by the Washington Redskins on Tuesday, just two days after he was released by the 49ers following his second arrest on suspicion of domestic violence in the last year.
San Francisco coach Kyle Shanahan, who decided to release Foster following his arrest Saturday at the team hotel in Tampa, Fla., didn’t expect a team to add Foster so quickly.
“I was a little surprised,” he said. “Not (by) the team in particular, but that someone did.”
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The Sacramento Bee
Washington, of course, was Shanahan’s former employer during more formative years as an offensive coordinator under his father, Mike, from 2010-13. The Shanahans’ departure was messy and well documented, and Kyle’s ire for the team remained apparent in his comment.
As for Foster, he was placed on the reserve/commissioner exempt list after being claimed by Washington. He won’t be allowed to play or practice until the league concludes its investigation into the incident over the weekend that led to his departure from San Francisco.
It’s unknown how long that could take, but it’s likely Foster isn’t cleared to play this season with just five weeks remaining – and the 2017 first-round draft pick could face a suspension as a result of the league’s findings.
“There’s no guarantee he’s ever going to play here,” Redskins coach Jay Gruden told reporters Wednesday. “He’s got a lot of work to do – personally, with the team, with the NFL, with himself – before he even thinks about playing football again.”
Foster’s absence from the locker room Wednesday was noticeable. His old spot next to Richard Sherman was occupied by recent practice squad addition Max McCaffrey, who certainly doesn’t have Foster’s gregarious personality.
“I love Reuben the person,” fellow linebacker Fred Warner said. “A lot of people talk about him as a player, I’m one of those guys that got to be with him in the (meeting) room and off the field, a lot. And so, I know what happened, what he was accused of was very serious. It’s disappointing that he’s not here anymore, but I’m happy for him regardless of what happens.”
Said defensive tackle DeForest Buckner: “That’s good for him. He gets another chance, another opportunity. I know everybody cares about him a lot in this organization, from top to bottom. So hopefully everything goes right with his case and he takes advantage of his new opportunity and, yeah, just make better decisions going forward.”
The 49ers will move forward with Warner, Malcolm Smith and Elijah Lee at linebacker beginning Sunday in Seattle, where the team hasn’t won since December 2011. San Francisco on Tuesday promoted James Onwualu from the practice squad after signing him Nov. 19.
Goodwin remains away – Receiver Marquise Goodwin has remained away from the team to handle a personal matter after leaving Tampa on Saturday to return to the Bay Area. It’s unknown when he will return to the club.
Rookie Dante Pettis would likely replace Goodwin against as the “X” receiver should Goodwin remain unavailable against the Seahawks.
Pettis had a team-high 77 yards on four catches, including his second NFL touchdown, against the Buccaneers.
“Last week was the first time that he got to play really a whole game,” Shanahan said of Pettis. “... He was the main guy who I thought took a step forward in Tampa.”
Fellow wideout Pierre Garçon (knee) was a limited participant in practice Wednesday, which indicates he could be on track to play Sunday after missing the past two games.
Injury updates – With rookie defensive back D.J. Reed out Sunday with heel and chest injuries, Shanahan said the team hasn’t ruled out trying strong safety Jaquiski Tartt at the free safety spot in place of Jimmie Ward, who went on injured reserve with a fractured forearm this week.
Tartt played free safety early last season while Ward was dealing with a hamstring injury. That move could allow rookie sixth-round pick Marcell Harris to make his first career start at strong safety. Antone Exum Jr. could also step in at free safety, becoming San Francisco’s fourth player to start at that spot.
Left tackle Joe Staley was given a veteran’s day off from practice. Center Weston Richburg sat with a knee injury that’s been bothering him since Sept. 30’s game against the Los Angeles Chargers.
Limited in practice: RB Matt Breida (ankle) G Joshua Garnett (thumb), CB Greg Mabin (thigh), LB Mark Nzeocha (thigh), LB Malcolm Smith (Achilles), Tartt (shoulder).