The San Francisco 49ers wrapped up the 2017 season and have begun their work to prepare for 2018 free agency and the draft. We’ll be breaking down plenty of what that means, but in the meantime, we wanted to take a look back at the season that was for the 49ers. Jimmy Garoppolo captured our imagination, but the 49ers rebuilding process was extensive last year. We are going to take a look at every notable addition and provide a forum for grading how that signing, trade, or draft pick worked out.
Reuben Foster, linebacker
How acquired: Drafted in the first round (31st overall)
To understand the majesty that is Reuben Foster’s draft selection is to understand how this selection happened. John Lynch already drafted a player in Solomon Thomas, who we aren’t going to argue if he was a good or bad pick at this juncture.
That pick at the time was already one of the better defensive prospects in the draft. Thomas was also a part of several mocks. The other player in mocks? Reuben Foster. Unfortunately, durability and character concerns made an early pick a risky one. So the 49ers instead waited for teams to pass then swooped back into the 1st round via a trade with the Seattle Seahawks to draft Foster.
Upon being cleared by the medical staff early in training camp, Foster quickly made a name for himself in the preseason, with comparisons not just to someone like Luke Kuechly, but to Bobby Boucher, the water boy. That’s right, Foster was compared to a fictional football character (credit Kyle Shanahan’s son for starting that).
Foster finished with solid numbers for a rookie; 72 combined tackles, and one pass breakup. The only problem—and elephant in the room—is the aforementioned durability. In Week 1, Foster made it only through a few minutes in the first quarter until injuring his foot which kept him out for the rest of the game and five weeks after. When he returned against the Dallas Cowboys, he knocked himself out the game again, and had to miss the following week as well. Every scary hit he made caused an equally scary period of held breath hoping he would get up. When Foster could play an entire game without getting examined or having the training staff on the field post-down, it was a cause for celebrations akin to the 49ers having another addition to “The Catch” play series.
This of course, adds to the legend. Someone rotating in and out of games still made their presence known on the field, and the 49ers defense was a different defense depending on his availability. Still, this may be why he was passed on by almost every other team in the league.
There’s also that other issue: Foster was recently arrested for possession of marijuana in the State of Alabama. Well, the scouts did say he had character and durability concerns...
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