SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- The San Francisco 49ers aren't well equipped to lose many of their starters to injury.
But when it comes to linebacker Malcolm Smith's season-ending torn right pectoral muscle, the club believes it remains in good hands.
After all, it's why the 49ers moved up into the bottom of the first round in April to select Alabama star Reuben Foster.
"Yeah, I'm ready," Foster declared Monday, shortly after the 49ers announced that Smith, their projected starter at outside linebacker, had been placed on injured reserve.
New 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh noted that the job flanking NaVorro Bowman wouldn't be handed to the rookie. Holdover Ray-Ray Armstrong remains very much in the picture.
The key for Foster, Saleh insisted, will be achieving consistency.
"He needs reps," Saleh observed. "The game is faster (than in college). The linemen are faster; they're stronger. So, he just needs reps -- over and over, and over again."
Without meaning any disrespect to Foster or Armstrong, Saleh said filling Smith's shoes won't be easy.
"He was unbelievable. Looked like the Super Bowl MVP," he said of the offseason addition in free agency. "I don't hurt as much for the organization as I do for him and all the hard work he put in this offseason to position himself to have the best year of his career. I feel sick for him."
Feel sorry for Smith, Saleh said, but not for the 49ers.
"Thirty-one other teams are going to suffer an injury that just hurts them, and 31 other teams are going to have to replace that person," he said. "Like I said, I don't feel bad for the team or the organization."
No announcement has been made as to who will start in Smith's place in the 49ers' preseason opener Friday at Kansas City.
While Smith (torn right pectoral muscle) suffered the biggest injury of the 49ers' first 10 days of training camp, the club was forced to prepare itself to start the regular season without a starter on the other side of the ball as well.
The 49ers are expecting second-year guard Joshua Garnett to miss at least the first two games of the season following minor knee surgery.
Zane Beadles, who had been battling newcomer Brandon Fusco for the starting spot at right guard, has been shifted over to the left side to replace Garnett.
Shanahan praised Fusco and Beadles, both NFL veterans, for rolling with the punches of new positions and new schemes early in camp.
"It's always neat with veterans who have had success in this league when they're willing to do that," the new head coach assured. "They're OK being uncomfortable with being uncomfortable."
Another option would be to move veteran center Daniel Kilgore to a guard position, something he'd done earlier in his 49ers career, and promote backup Jeremy Zuttah to the starting center spot. For now, they remain in competition at center, with Kilgore holding the edge.