Robert Saleh is always informative when he meets with the media. The San Francisco 49ers defensive coordinator is good for interesting anecdotes regarding his personnel.
Wednesday’s post-practice presser was no different. Here’s analysis from Saleh on four notable defensive players.
1. Reuben’s Return
Reuben Foster was allowed to return to the club last week following the dismissal of his domestic violence charges. Foster is yet to practice in full, but Saleh noted that the linebacker is in great shape and could have practiced on Wednesday. There’s no need to rush him back. That said, Foster missed the entire offseason program last year due to shoulder surgery, so any reps he could get over the next two weeks would be invaluable.
There’s one thing that everyone in the organization can agree on: It’s great to have No. 56 back in the fold.
“We’re all excited,” Saleh said. “The whole organization matches his enthusiasm, and that’s not just because of Reuben the player, but Reuben the person. For people who don’t know him, and who don’t have the privilege to know him, really don’t understand what a great human being he actually is.”
2. Sophomore Solly
Solomon Thomas has been a popular topic of conversation this offseason. Last week, DeForest Buckner shared his endorsement for Thomas. Saleh echoed that belief in last year's third-overall pick.
“Solomon’s big thing is that when you come in as a first-year rookie and you’re trying to create an identity for yourself, that’s always the hardest part, especially as a pass rusher,” Saleh explained. “Solomon’s really starting to understand who he is as a pass rusher, and he’s starting to work that and you can see it come into fruition with him. I know we’re early in OTAs so there’s still a long way to go, but he’s on the right path. He’s doing the right things. We’ll see, especially when pads come on.”
3. Straight Cash, Homie
Cassius Marsh had a standout practice on Wednesday. He recorded a would-be sack in full-team work with a nice inside swim move. He also won all of his 1-on-1 reps. Marsh could be a dark horse candidate to be the team’s surprise impact player in 2018. He only has six career sacks since entering the NFL in 2014, but he could also be looking at the biggest role of his career.
“He’s been great,” Saleh said of Marsh. “When he first got here, if I remember right, we talked about that he is the definition of all gas, no brakes. The guy is just on tilt whenever he’s in the building. Even though he got the contract extension, he still embodies that. He wants to do more. He’s always asking to do more, so having him is great.”
4. Yabba Dabba Doo
Fred Warner could be this year’s Ahkello Witherspoon – a rookie who doesn’t start in Week 1 but ends the season as an every down player. He’s learning to play inside linebacker in Saleh’s system, but he’s picking things up fairly quickly by all accounts. Warner played a position called “Flash” at BYU – a hybrid safety/outside linebacker that rarely played inside the box.
“Early on, he’s shown really good heavy hands, which is a great pleasant surprise,” Saleh said. “Then, his ability to read and diagnose and do all of those things has been really, really good. Now he’s just got to continue to build, continue to take all of that information that we’re giving him and just keep going faster, faster and faster and start implementing. When pads come on, we’ll see. But, he’s been good so far.”