Niners Ecstatic They Were Able to Draft Foster - NBC Bay Area
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Niners Ecstatic They Were Able to Draft Foster

San Francisco slipped ahead of Saints at bottom of Round 1 to select former Alabama standout

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    Former Alabama linebacker Reuben Foster (No. 10) believed he would be taken by the Saints in Round 1, until the 49ers selected him. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

    So what does John Lynch do for an encore?

    In Round 1 of the NFL draft Thursday night, the 49ers’ rookie general manager was aggressive, going after two players he believed were among the top three in the draft. Lynch said Stanford defensive end Solomon Thomas and Alabama linebacker Reuben Foster were two of the three top-rated players on the team’s entire draft board, along with the draft’s No. 1 overall selection, Texas A&M defensive end Myles Garrett (taken by the Browns).

    The fact the 49ers wound up with Foster was part luck and part action on the part of Lynch and his staff.

    First, Foster had to fall all the way to the bottom of the first round. And, thanks to a shoulder injury and two other factors – he was sent home from the NFL combine after getting into an argument with a hospital worker during his medical testing and then had an abnormality in his urine test for drugs (diluted because of too much water) – the former Alabama star was available with the 31st pick in Thursday’s Round 1.

    According to an account by Josh Katzenstein of the New Orleans Times-Picayune, the Saints were all set to select Foster with the 32nd pick, when the 49ers traded up with Seattle. With the Seahawks’ 31st pick, they took Foster.

    Lynch said when he called Foster to tell him he’d just been drafted by San Francisco, Foster was surprised.

    “When I was talking to him, he said, ‘Coach, New Orleans is taking me,’ ” Lynch told the media. “I said, ‘No, we’re taking you.’ ”

    Though Foster was surprised, he said he was excited and happy to be coming to the Bay Area.

    Foster told Cam Inman of the Bay Area News Group that he will be “trying to be the next Patrick Willis, the next great linebacker in their history.”

    Foster was selected the Butkus Award winner this past season as the best linebacker in college football. He had 115 tackles and five sacks in 2016.

    NFL.com draft analyst Daniel Jeremiah said the 49ers may have secured a future star.

    "If his shoulder is right, we're talking about the best pick in the draft," Jeremiah said.

    Now the 49ers head into Day 2 of the draft with two choices scheduled, both in Round 3 (after trading away their second-round pick to move up to get Foster). The 49ers will have the second and third choices in Round 3 (66th and 67th overall). The 49ers have seven choices set for Day 3 of the draft Saturday.

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