Outside of Joe Mixon, Reuben Foster probably the most polarizing player of this draft. Some scouts loved his talent and think he was one of the best players in this draft. Others thought the combination of his shoulder injury and off the field issues made him not worth using a first round pick on.
But the 49ers were not concerned about any of the latter, and traded up to get him at the end of the first round.
I thought they nailed the pick.
Regardless of what John Lynch did with the rest of the draft, he already had a successful one. Picking up three picks from the Bears to move back one spot and draft Solomon Thomas was highway robbery. They already drafted a day one starter on defense in the first round, and Lynch saw a good chance to grab another one as Reuben Foster slid down the first round.
The 49ers had some extra assets to play with thanks to the earlier trade. Moving up into the first round gave the 49ers a fifth year option on Foster. They only had to move up three spots from their second round pick at #34 overall. Along with swapping picks, the Niners gave division rival Seahawks the 4th round pick they acquired from the Chicago Bears earlier in the night. That Seattle pick ended up being Tedric Thompson, safety from Colorado.
Foster’s slide was mainly a result of his shoulder injury he suffered at Alabama. The problems were enough to scare a lot of teams away from drafting him, but Lynch and his draft team were willing to take the risk. So far it looks like it is going to pay off, as Foster is expected to be ready for training camp.
When I look at Foster’s game I see a thumper. He’s a bruiser who never shies away from contact. Not only does he hit hard, but he’s looking for hard hits. Foster flies around the field with impressive speed, and is excellent at seeking out the ball carrier and putting him in the ground. It’s not hard to see why he was projected to be a top ten pick before his shoulder issues.
All things considered, this is a very low risk, high reward selection by the 49ers. If Foster lives up to his full potential, John Lynch just drafted a legitimate anchor to the middle of his defense for at least the next decade. Even if he doesn’t live up all the way to that and just becomes a formidable starting player, this pick will still be a hit. And if the Foster never quite pans out, he will just be looked at as a guy who San Francisco gave up a fourth rounder for in the year they got Solomon Thomas.
The bottom line is San Francisco finished dead last in the NFL in total defense in 2016. Opposing offenses averaged 406 yards and 30 points a game. That was clearly going to be the point of emphasis in the draft this year, and the 49ers made some solid choices. Even if it isn’t complete yet, between Thomas, Foster, and DeForest Bucker, there is a very young core in place that could soon be a force with the right coaching and talent placed around them.