The San Francisco 49ers started free agency early with four signings Friday, Feb. 29. Among those signings was former Carolina Panthers running back DeShaun Foster. Foster is by no means washed up; however, his time in Carolina was cut short due to a high cap number and the presence of running back DeAngelo Williams. Last year, Foster ran the ball 247 times for 876 yards and three touchdowns. His yards-per-carry average was a bit weak at just 3.5, but he is still a solid back that should work well mixing it up with incumbent 49ers starter Frank Gore.
Foster had good, but not great numbers during his time with the Panthers. His best season came in 2006, when he ran for 897 yards and three touchdowns. One of his drawbacks is a problem with fumbles. Over his five-year career, he has put the ball on the ground 16 times, 11 of which have been lost. Last year alone he fumbled seven times and lost five of them. Foster has not been able to stay on the field with any consistency. Injury after injury has derailed what appeared to be a promising career. The 2007 season was the first year in Foster's career in which he played in every game. Previously, he missed at least one game and as much as an entire season (rookie year) due to injury.
His role with the 49ers likely will be backing up Gore. This should get him a few touches, but he isn't likely to see the extensive work that he was accustom to in Carolina at times. Last year's backups Michael Robinson and Maurice Hicks combined for 47 carries. He will also have to beat out Robinson for the primary backup job. At this point, he must be considered the favorite for that job due to his experience, but both players will be on a level playing field while learning offensive coordinator Mike Martz's new system.
If Foster does win the backup job, he will have value as a handcuff to Gore. Gore is no stranger to injury, too, so there is a solid chance that Foster could find himself with some fantasy value as the year wears on. If he doesn't win the backup job then he shouldn't be considered in fantasy leagues, obviously. Robinson's value will also take a hit depending on if he wins or loses the job. Watch this situation throughout the offseason when it becomes clearer.
About Bryce McRae
Bryce McRae is a Managing Editor with KFFL and has been involved in fantasy sports since 1999. He joined KFFL as a volunteer writer in March 2005 before becoming a Hot off the Wire Analyst in March 2006. He began working in his current capacity in September 2008. His work has appeared on fantasy sports sites such as Yahoo! and CBS Sportsline as well as in print. He graduated from the University of British Columbia in 2008 with a B.A. in History and U.S. Studies.
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