San Francisco 49ers linebacker Reuben Foster said he learned a great deal after being separated from his team while in the midst of serious allegations related to domestic violence.
"It was a big learning experience," Foster said Saturday, via NBC Sports Bay Area. "I learn from every mistake, everything that's said, all my flaws. I learned from a lot of things and just grew from it. It made me appreciate football a lot better. It was crazy, knowing that football can be gone. Being back on this field with my brothers and these coaches, man, is a blessing."
It's that blessing that he nearly lost due to off-the-field matters, something Foster doesn't take lightly.
"It made me appreciate football a lot better," Foster said. "It was crazy knowing that football could be gone. Just being back on this field with my brothers and these coaches, it's a blessing.
"I learned every day I got to go harder at everything I do to better myself even more. It's do or die. Just don't mess up. Like trying to craft my football. I have to craft my life and go hard at it."
Foster was suspended two games for violating the league's policies on personal conduct and substance abuse.
The disciplinary action stems from separate incidents involving a misdemeanor weapons charge and misdemeanor marijuana possession charge.
Foster will miss the season opener at Minnesota and a home game versus the Detroit Lions. He is eligible to return to San Francisco's roster on Sept. 17.
The second-year linebacker out of Alabama will be eligible to participate in all preseason practices and games.
Foster pleaded no-contest in June to a misdemeanor weapons charge in Santa Clara County (Calif.) Superior Court. He was sentenced to two years of probation, 240 hours of community service and $235 in fines.
Foster escaped another legal problem when prosecutors in Alabama dropped a misdemeanor marijuana possession charge against him stemming from his arrest in January.
The 24-year-old Foster originally was facing two felony domestic violence charges and a felony weapons charge in the case before his former girlfriend recanted accusations she made against him.
A judge dismissed the felony charges and reduced the weapons charge to a misdemeanor after hearing the ex-girlfriend's testimony during Foster's preliminary hearing in May.
Foster ranked second on the 49ers in tackles with 72 despite missing five games because of a high ankle sprain and another game with back spasms. He was named the NFL's Defensive Rookie of the Month in November.
The Butkus Award winner at Alabama as the nation's top linebacker, Foster slid to the bottom of the first round as the No. 31 pick in the 2017 NFL Draft because of the character and medical issues (shoulder surgery after his final season with the Crimson Tide.