Nick Wagoner, ESPN Staff Writer 27d

Reuben Foster returns, but now is dealing with rib injury

SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- Moments after the San Francisco 49ers' blowout loss to the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday, linebacker Reuben Foster was asked what hurts after returning from a high-ankle sprain that kept him out the past five weeks.

Foster didn't point to a sore ankle or to the rib injury that had him in, out, in and back out of the game in the second half against the Cowboys.

"My feelings hurt," Foster said. "We lost, but we have just got to own up to it, be a man about it and just correct everything. Come back in the beehive and correct everything that we messed up on."

Before Foster can do that for himself, however, he will have to have to get a closer inspection of the rib injury he suffered midway through the third quarter. Foster missed one snap after that and returned to the game before he apparently aggravated it and left the game for good.

Niners coach Kyle Shanahan didn't have an immediate update on the severity of the injury but said Foster could have returned to the game had the situation been different.

“I know he wanted to go back in the game, and he was cleared to go back in the game late in the fourth, but that was me," Shanahan said. "I held him out just at the end. It was too important. I wanted to make sure we have him next week. The fact that he was good to go there, I’m assuming he’ll be good to go next week. But, you never know. We’ll see what happens tomorrow when he wakes up.”

Foster echoed that sentiment, acknowledging that he would need to see how he feels Monday, indicating that he would be in for a scan and treatment and then go from there based on the medical feedback.

"I really don’t know," Foster said. "I have just got to come in here, get my scan, treatment and just see what the doctors have to say about it. If they clear me, they clear me, if they don’t, they don’t. At the end of the day, I haven’t been out this long [with an injury]. I’m not used to it. It’s getting my mind right, too."

Foster's return came with a lot of responsibility. His only other appearance this season came in the opener against Carolina, a game in which he played about a dozen snaps before suffering the ankle injury.

Upon his return this week, Foster found himself moving to the middle linebacker spot left open by NaVorro Bowman's release. So, in addition to knocking off whatever rust he had, Foster also had to deal with handling the communication in the huddle and getting his teammates lined up.

According to Foster, that all felt familiar from his time in college. He finished with five tackles, including one for loss.

"It’s just like Alabama, calling plays, getting everybody lined up," Foster said. "Of course, you’re not going to have [a] 100 percent game, so you have got to just do a good job. If you mess up, you have got to go on to the next play; don’t dwell on the play that you just messed up on. It was comfortable. It was good."

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