Reuben Foster admitted that Saturday will be a bit weird. It's the first time since 2013 that he isn't playing in the Iron Bowl, one of college football's premier rivalry games featuring Alabama and Auburn.
Luckily for Foster, he has his own rivalry matchup to prepare for. The San Francisco 49ers rookie linebacker is going to get his first opportunity to play against Russell Wilson and the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday. After a narrow, 12-9, loss to the Seahawks in Week 2, it could be Foster who finally tips the scales in San Francisco's favor. The 49ers are desperate to end their current eight-game losing streak against Seattle.
In order to beat Seattle, it's imperative that San Francisco's defense limits the explosive plays created by Wilson. Everyone knows the song and dance where it looks like a defense has Wilson dead to rights, then the quarterback escapes and either takes off downfield or finds a receiver wide open for a big gain.
Foster brought up a specific play a few weeks back against the Arizona Cardinals where Wilson evaded multiple defenders, went round-and-round in circles before heaving a sideline pass to Doug Baldwin.
"I was like, 'Yep, there he goes.' It's nothing new. It's just Russell Wilson," Foster said. "As soon as you think you've got him pinned to the wall, he's coming out big time.
"He's one of the best players in the NFL."
Kyle Shanahan isn't naïve enough to think that a defense can stop Wilson all together. There will be plays where Russell Wilson does Russell Wilson things. The key is to limit those moments and make sure they don't come in critical moments.
That's easier said than done, but Foster is a chess piece that makes the 49ers feel much better about the matchup.
"The more speed and explosive talent you can get out there, the more you can contain guys who have speed and explosive talent," Shanahan said. "Reuben has got that as much as anyone on our team so of course that helps."
In addition to the excitement to chase Wilson for 60 minutes, Foster is also eager to watch Bobby Wagner up close and personal. San Francisco's coaching staff has urged the rookie to keep an eye on Wagner and observe the traits that make him such a great linebacker.
"I don't want to copy (his) playing style, but I want to use some of (his) weapons," Foster said. "I might have to steal some of Wagner's tricks."
Foster has led the 49ers defense in tackles in each of the team's last two games. If the 49ers come out on top in Week 12, you can bet that the linebacker will have left his mark in what would be San Francisco's second-straight victory.