- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 12, 2017

ASHBURN — In Mason Foster’s Oct. 4, 2015, debut with the Washington Redskins, the linebacker saw firsthand why Pierre Garcon has a reputation as a fierce competitor.

With 31 seconds left at the Philadelphia Eagles’ 4-yard line, Garcon hauled in a go-ahead Kirk Cousins touchdown pass despite a hellacious hit from cornerback Eric Rowe. Garcon popped back up immediately to celebrate with his teammates, slapping the helmets of the offensive linemen around him. The Redskins won 23-20.

“You hear stories and see him on TV growing up,” Foster said. “But when you see him make that catch in the end of the game, he’s the real deal.”

Foster and the rest of the Redskins get another upclose look at Garcon’s intensity — this time in a 49ers uniform — on Sunday.

Garcon, 31, signed a five-year, $47.5 million contract with San Francisco in March after five years with the Redskins. Those who know him expect the veteran to be fired up against his old team.

“I think Pierre plays at his best when he is a little — a little more angry,” 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said. “He really gets to that spot, really every week. … That’s one of the reasons I’ve always loved Pierre and really wanted him to be a Niner.”

The Redskins elected to not re-sign last year’s starting wideouts, Garcon and DeSean Jackson, bringing in Terrelle Pryor and counting on a jump from Josh Doctson instead. The moves were seen by some as controversial.

In August, former Redskins general manager Scot McCloughan said on a podcast that he would have never let Garcon go if he were still calling the shots in Washington. He said Garcon was “highly, highly respected” in the Redskins locker room.

Now Garcon is reunited with Shanahan, who was his offensive coordinator from 2010-2013. After being hired by San Francisco in February, Shanahan made it a priority to go after Garcon — viewed by the 49ers’ brass as one of the top wide receivers in free agency.

The pairing has been a success through five weeks. Garcon has 28 receptions for 379 yards. He also leads the team with 44 targets.

In Washington, Garcon was a reliable possession receiver. After signing a five-year, $42.5 million deal to join Washington in 2012, he became the rare Redskins free agent acquistion who lived up to his contract.

Redskins coach Jay Gruden noted Garcon’s physicality and ability to produce yards after the catch.

And like Shanahan, Gruden said Garcon has a knack for playing angry.

“He was angry at me the whole time he was here,” Gruden said, laughing. “I think that’s what people appreciate about him — when you compete with him or against him — you see the anger that he plays with on tape. It’s not a bad thing, it’s a good thing for wide receivers.”

Off the field, Foster described Garcon as the opposite. Garcon, Foster said, was the type to lead by example — especially when it came to mentoring the Redskins‘ Jamison Crowder, Ryan Grant and Josh Doctson.

Foster said Garcon was reserved and then amped up for gameday.

“I think most guys are like that, but him, it was drastic,” Foster said.

Cornerback Bashaud Breeland is looking forward to facing Garcon on Sunday. He said he never saw Garcon’s anger in practice, but said “it’ll be fun to get to see that.”

“It’s going to be an exciting test,” Breeland said. “He’s made good plays on the ball and he runs his routes hard. It’s going to be a good task.”

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