49ers Sent Team Chaplain To Meet With Reuben Foster For Two Days Before Drafting Him

  • Rick Chandler


So the 49ers didn’t have a bad draft — by all accounts in fact it was a kick-ass day. They got Stanford DE Solomon Thomas at the No. 3 spot and a steal at No. 31 when they traded back into the first round to Hamburgle Alabama LB Reuben Foster.

But why did such a highly-touted player in Alabama’s Foster, as high as No. 5 on some boards, last until the first round was almost over? For one thing, he reportedly failed a drug test at the NFL Combine. It came back “diluted”, according to AL.com (Foster has said it was because he was dehydrated).

Foster, who won The Butkus Award and was an All-American led Alabama with 115 tackles this past season, seems to have other issues. He allegedly had an altercation withe a hospital worker during the combine (one reason he was sent home), and won’t be available until mini camp because of a minor shoulder injury.

But new 49ers GM Kevin Lynch and head coach Kyle Shanahan are taking the term “due diligence” very seriously. Because San Francisco players lately have had nearly as much trouble with law as the Mean Machine from The Longest Yard, Lynch and Shanahan were taking no chances here. Sports Spectrum:

ESPN reported that Lynch and his club had eyes on Foster long before Thursday night. In order to cover all their bases, they even sent their team chaplain, Earl Smith, down to Tuscaloosa, Alabama, where Foster lives, and met with him for two days.

“We were exhaustive in getting to know the kid,” Lynch told ESPN. “It felt genuine. That’s something we loved about Reuben is that he’s really genuine, he’s got a smile that lights up a room, and the way he plays football is special.”

Foster was actually on the phone with the Saints, who had the 32nd pick, just before the 49ers picked him — New Orleans was sure that SF was going to pass on him. But Foster “hung up” on the Saints when the 49ers called. It was Lynch.

“The Saints just picked me, coach,” Foster said. “No they didn’t,” Lynch replied. “We did.”