NFL teams hire dozens of consultants to help with their game planning, many of whose names never see the light of day. In some cases, the consultant’s role may not be entirely be relevant, while other names the team may want to keep under wraps.
This case clearly falls in the latter camp.
As first reported by ESPN’s Jenna Laine, the San Francisco 49ers quietly hired Chris Foerster during the 2018 offseason. Although he has spent 36 years coaching, 26 in the NFL, he is best known for resigning as the Miami Dolphins offensive line coach in 2017 after video emerged of him snorting a white powder before a team meeting.
The Niners have been cagey about Foerster’s hire; he is not listed on the team's website and his hire was not announced anywhere. Foerster said he checked himself into rehab for 60 days on Oct. 9, 2017 — the same day he resigned from the Dolphins — and spent another 90 days in an outpatient program, but it’s not clear how long after the 49ers hired him.
“We are not going to act like flat out it didn't happen and just let him back in right away,” 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan told NBC Sports BayArea. “We are taking a very slow process, and that's why we did the first year the way we did and why it led to the second year.”
Foerster previously served as the 49ers offensive line coach in 2008, 2009 and 2015, and he had a relationship with Shanahan between those stints. They both coached for the Washington Redskins from 2010-13 with Foerster as an O-line coach and Shanahan as the offensive coordinator. He also coached the Tampa Bay Buccaneers from 1996-2001 when now-Niners GM John Lynch was playing.
“When it happened, we were as shocked as anyone, from my wife to anybody,” Shanahan said. “It’s nothing I’d want to stick up for. These are extremely bad things that I know he's not proud of, and I'm not proud of.
“I also understand that people make huge mistakes, and ... he's trying to make amends and he's trying to make it right.”
Consultants have wide flexibility as far as how they may be used — even appearing on the sideline — but the 49ers have kept Foerster to watching film, creating scouting reports and attending meetings. He hasn't traveled with the team nor earned a full-time position, but that could change in the future.
Before scandal hit, Foerster was regarded as one of the top assistants in the league. According to ESPN, he had been earning salaries between $2.5 million and $3 million annually, so the Niners are gambling that they can turn around a top offensive mind.
“He’s done that exactly the right way for two years,” Shanahan said. “We will see if he continues to do that, and then we will reassess that after this year. If it continues to go well, I think he has a chance to get his life back on track. And that's really all we are trying to do.”
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