Reuben Foster

NFC Notes: Lions, Eagles, 49ers

Lions contract-year quarterback Matthew Stafford could be on the verge of becoming the NFL’s highest-paid quarterback, but he told reporters Wednesday that there’s still “no timetable” on an extension (per Michael Rothstein of ESPN.com). And while it’s possible Stafford will wait for the Raiders’ Derek Carr and/or the Redskins’ Kirk Cousins to sign before talks between him and the Lions ramp up, he insists their situations have no bearing on his. “I’m not too worried about what those guys do,” Stafford said.

More from Detroit and two other NFC cities:

  • The Eagles handed Jason Peters a one-year extension Wednesday, and the club could move the veteran offensive lineman from tackle to guard at some point in the future, as head coach Doug Pederson told reporters, including Matt Lombardo of NJ.com (Twitter link). The switch would make some sense, especially from a contractual standpoint, as Philadelphia has already locked up its left tackle of the future — incumbent right tackle Lane Johnson. Johnson is earning $11.25MM annually, far and away the highest salary among right tackles, a sure sign the Eagles envision the former first-round pick eventually transitioning to the blindside.
  • Kyle Shanahan cautioned last month that 49ers first-round linebacker Reuben Foster‘s shoulder issues could keep him out of action as a rookie, but the head coach is now singing a different tune. Shanahan expressed confidence Wednesday that Foster will be a full participant when training camp opens in July, saying (via Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle): “He’s been doing great with his rehab. Really have no concerns. I think he’ll be more than ready to go by training camp. That’s my feeling. Can’t promise that, but I’d be surprised if he wasn’t.” Foster underwent right shoulder surgery before the combine, which played a part in the former Alabama All-American’s fall from a potential top 10 pick to the 31st overall selection.
  • Asked Thursday if it’s possible the Lions will re-sign free agent wide receiver Anquan Boldin, head coach Jim Caldwell said, “Never say never.” But it’s unlikely the Lions will bring back Boldin unless one of their current receivers suffers an injury, tweets Justin Rogers of the Detroit News. Boldin, 36, led all Lions wideouts in touchdown catches (eight) and finished second in receptions (61) in 2016, though he only averaged 8.7 yards per grab.

Dallas Robinson contributed to this post.

49ers Sign Rookie Reuben Foster

Reuben Foster is officially a member of the 49ers. The team announced on Friday that the linebacker has inked his rookie contract. Reuben Foster (vertical)

The Niners kicked off their draft night by trading down from No. 2 to No. 3 and selecting Solomon Thomas. Later on, they traded back into the first round to select Foster. Foster appeared in 51 games (24 starts) during his four-year career at Alabama and registered 222 tackles, 24 tackles for loss, and eight sacks. In 2016, he was named First-Team All-America by the Associated Press and won the Butkus Award, the trophy given to the nation’s best linebacker.

Foster was believed to be a top ten candidate heading into draft week, but concerns about his character and injured shoulder hurt his stock. As he slid down the board, the Niners worked the phones hard to try and take the standout inside linebacker. At one point, the Niners were ready to trade into the middle of the first round for Foster, but they were able to get him several picks later and give up a lot less for the privilege. SF traded its No. 34 and No. 111 overall picks to Seattle to move up to No. 31 and nab Foster, who was reportedly the third-ranked player on its board.

With the signing, the 49ers now have eight of ten draft picks under contract. Thomas and C.J. Beathard are the only two unsigned rookies.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Extra Points: Megatron, Young, Sam, Jets

Former Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson has been observing Raiders practices this week as a guest of offensive coordinator Todd Downing, per Eddie Paskal of Raiders.com. Downing was on Detroit’s staff from 2009-13 – a large portion of Johnson’s career – and while it’s fun to imagine Megatron coming out of retirement to join the Raiders’ high-octane attack, there’s no indication he has any interest in doing so.

More from around the game:

  • Johnson may not be coming out of retirement, but former NFL quarterback Vince Young is returning to the gridiron. Young, who retired in 2014, signed Thursday with the Saskatchewan Roughriders of the Canadian Football League, agent Leigh Steinberg announced (Twitter link). The 34-year-old Young, a former superstar at the University of Texas and the 2006 Offensive Rookie of the Year with the Titans, hasn’t attempted a regular-season pass in the professional ranks since he was a member of the Eagles in 2011.
  • An openly gay player has never played a regular-season NFL game, and it’s likely to stay that way for the foreseeable future, former Eagles/Browns executive and current ESPN analyst Joe Banner told SiriusXM NFL Radio earlier this week (via Sporting News’ Alex Marvez). Former Missouri defensive end Michael Sam is the only openly gay player ever drafted, having gone in the seventh round in 2014, but he encountered a media firestorm during his stints with the Rams and the Cowboys during the preseason that year. The media attention that accompanied his short time in the league has likely made teams “a little more hesitant” to welcome an openly gay player, says Banner. For their part, the Browns didn’t regard Sam’s sexuality as an issue, according to Banner.
  • Collette Smith will become the first woman to ever join the Jets’ coaching staff, reports Leonard Greene of the New York Daily News. Smith, who’s a coach and marketing executive with the New York Sharks of the Independent Women’s Football League, will work as a preseason intern with the Jets’ defensive backs during training camp. “I’m over the top. I’m humbled and I’m proud,” said Smith. “This could have happened with any NFL team. But it just so happened that it was with my beloved New York Jets. This is bigger because of that. God forbid it would have been with the Patriots. But I still would have done it.”
  • Vice president of player personnel Adam Peters was one of the driving forces behind the 49ers’ drafting of former Alabama linebacker Reuben Foster, writes Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle. Before Peters’ hiring in January, general manager John Lynch asked the former Broncos executive whom he’d select with the 49ers’ first-round pick (No. 2 overall). “Without hesitation, he said ‘Reuben Foster,'” stated Lynch. The draft didn’t quite work out the way Peters imagined it then, as the Niners ultimately traded down to third overall and selected ex-Stanford defensive lineman Solomon Thomas with that choice. But San Francisco ended up getting Foster at the end of Round 1, after it moved up to No. 31 overall. “A lot has transpired then and (Peters) loved Solomon Thomas, too, I don’t want to get that mistaken,” said Lynch. “But he was a huge champion of Reuben Foster. Like I said, so much transpired from there to there. But (Peters) was big on that one. I know that.”

49ers Tried To Trade Into Mid-First Round For Reuben Foster

We learned several weeks ago that the 49ers were willing to make Alabama LB Reuben Foster the No. 3 overall pick in this year’s draft if edge rushers Myles Garrett and Solomon Thomas were already off the board. Ultimately, of course, San Francisco grabbed Thomas with the No. 3 overall selection and dealt its No. 34 and No. 111 overall picks to Seattle to move up to No. 31 and select Foster, the third-ranked player on its board.

Reuben Foster (vertical)

But as Peter King of The MMQB writes in his piece detailing 49ers GM John Lynch‘s 24 hours up to and during the draft, Lynch and Co. were trying to land Foster long before that. The team did not believe Foster would fall past Baltimore’s selection at No. 16, as the Ravens had an apparent need at middle linebacker and Ravens GM Ozzie Newsome has a perceived proclivity for selecting Alabama players. The 49ers therefore offered Baltimore a second-, third-, and fourth-round selection to move up to No. 16, and Newsome countered with the second-rounder and both of the 49ers’ third-rounders.

The 49ers declined, but they kept trying. They offered the same package they offered to Baltimore to the Redskins, who held the No. 17 overall selection, but Washington declined as well (for what it’s worth, John Keim of ESPN.com says Redskins head coach Jay Gruden was unaware of the trade proposal, but it’s likely that team president Bruce Allen would have rejected the deal before it reached Gruden anyway). Lynch also called the Giants before they made their No. 23 overall choice, but he was rebuffed by New York GM Jerry Reese. Lynch finally, and unexpectedly, got his man eight picks later.

We now know that Foster could miss the entire 2017 season due to a shoulder injury, so it’s not surprising that he fell as far as he did on draft night (his watered-down urine sample and pre-draft argument with a hospital worker did not help his cause either). And, as our Dallas Robinson pointed out in the post linked above, it’s not a great look for Lynch and the 49ers staff that they were willing to use the third overall pick — or to trade significant draft assets to get back into the middle of the first round — for a player who ultimately fell to the end of Round 1.

However, by getting Foster in the first round, they can keep him under contract for five years, so it will be easier for them to treat 2017 as a medical redshirt season if necessary. Plus, if Foster can stay healthy, he and Thomas could form a fearsome duo in the middle of San Francisco’s defense for years.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Shanahan: Reuben Foster Could Miss 2017

There was significant concern about linebacker Reuben Foster‘s right shoulder entering the draft, which surely played a part in the ex-Alabama star’s first-round fall. Once regarded as a likely top 10 pick, Foster ended up going 31st overall to the 49ers, who are so bullish on the All-America defender that they would have been willing to select him at No. 3 had former Stanford D-lineman Solomon Thomas not been on the board. Instead, after landing Thomas with their top pick, the Niners were able to secure Foster by trading up three spots for him in a deal with the NFC West rival Seahawks.

Reuben Foster (Vertical)

The 49ers’ doctors “felt good” about Foster’s shoulder after examining it, head coach Kyle Shanahan told KNBR in San Francisco (via Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle), but the club nonetheless realizes the 23-year-old isn’t a lock to play in 2017.

“The worst-case scenario is the shoulder doesn’t heal correctly and you’ve got to do it again,” Shanahan said of a potential second surgery for Foster. “When you have to do it again, you have to get another surgery and it would be tough to play this year, and you end up having him the next year.”

Foster’s shoulder “could give out on any hit,” ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported earlier this week, though Shanahan won’t regard the selection as a mistake if it does. Shanahan doesn’t believe Foster’s shoulder is a “long-term” concern, adding: “So the worst-case scenario, he wouldn’t end up being able to play for us right away. But I still don’t think that would have changed how I personally felt about taking a guy with the 31st pick with the caliber of player that we took.”

By moving back into the first round for Foster, the 49ers gave themselves a chance to keep him in the fold on his first contract for five years, as opposed to four had he gone in the second round. As such, a redshirt season wouldn’t be catastrophic from a team control standpoint (though it certainly wouldn’t be ideal). And if Foster does sit out 2017 but go on to reach his potential from 2018-21, the 49ers probably won’t regret dealing the 34th and 111th choices to trade up for him.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

49ers Would’ve Drafted Reuben Foster No. 3

The 49ers were willing to select Alabama linebacker Reuben Foster with the third overall pick if edge rushers Myles Garrett and Solomon Thomas were already off the board, and likely would have done so had the Bears not traded a bevy of draft choices to move up to No. 2, as Peter King of TheMMQB.com reports in a typically excellent piece from inside the San Francisco draft room.Reuben Foster (vertical)

Much of the 49ers front office — with the exception of chief strategy office Paraag Marathe — believed Chicago wanted to trade up for Thomas, and were surprised when the Bears ultimately selected North Carolina quarterback Mitch Trubisky. San Francisco was comfortable with Foster at No. 3 despite an injured shoulder and off-field issues that included a diluted sample at the scouting combine, but still hoped to move back as far as No. 8 before drafting him. Instead, the Niners took 150 cents on the dollar (according to Chase Stuart of Football Perspective) in order to move down one spot.

After selecting Thomas third overall, the 49ers figured Foster would be gone by the middle of the first round, as general manager John Lynch pegged Cincinnati as a likely destination while head coach Kyle Shanahan didn’t think Foster would get past Baltimore at No. 16. But as Foster continued to tumble throughout the first round, San Francisco began to discuss a trade with the division rival Seahawks. Ultimately, the 49ers dealt No. 34 and No. 111 for Seattle’s No. 31, and used that newly-acquired pick to add Foster, the third overall player on their board.

While getting Foster at the end of the first round can certainly be considered a coup, the Alabama ‘backer’s injury issues might not be in the rearview mirror. A source tells Adam Schefter of ESPN.com that Foster’s shoulder surgery “didn’t take,” while some clubs are reportedly worried Foster’s rookie campaign could be a lost cause due to health questions. While the 49ers found Foster’s medicals to be adequate, one source tells Schefter that Foster’s shoulder “could give out on any hit.” Indeed, some NFL teams “medically rejected” Foster due to concerns about his shoulder, tweets Charles Robinson of Yahoo! Sports.

Additionally, it’s not a great look for Lynch and the 49ers staff that they were willing to use the third overall pick on a player who ultimately fell to the end of Round 1. Clearly, picking Foster at No. 3 would have been a reach based on the end results of the draft, and it’s fair to question whether San Francisco’s personnel department had thoroughly evaluated Foster (and his potential for being drafted in the top half of the first round).

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Extra Points: Hawks, Mahomes, Cowboys, Foster, Texans, Savage, Conley

Even though the Seahawks have one of the top starting quarterbacks in the NFL in Russell Wilson, they would have strongly considered drafting Texas Tech’s Patrick Mahomes if he were still on the board for their first-round pick, reports Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link). Mahomes, who went 10th to Kansas City, was long gone by the time Seattle was on the clock at No. 26. The Seahawks ultimately traded out of the opening round.

More from Seattle and a few other NFL cities as Day 2 of the draft approaches:

  • Speaking of the Seahawks, the Cowboys had an opportunity to swap picks with them in the first round, per Dallas executive Stephen Jones (Twitter link via Jon Machota of the Dallas Morning News). The Cowboys instead chose to stay at No. 28 because they liked the players remaining on the board, and ended up choosing Michigan defensive end Taco Charlton.
  • When the 49ers called Reuben Foster to inform him they were selecting him 31st overall, he was on the phone with the Saints at the time. New Orleans, which picked 32nd, was already welcoming Foster to the organization. But once Foster got word that he was going to San Francisco, he hung up on the Saints (Twitter links via Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee).
  • The Texans sent a significant haul to Cleveland to move from No. 25 to No. 12 and select Clemson QB Deshaun Watson, but it appears he’ll begin his pro career as a backup. Head coach Bill O’Brien told reporters, including Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle, that Tom Savage will be the Texans’ starting signal-caller next season (Twitter link).
  • The Raiders were not the team to request a polygraph test from Ohio State cornerback Gareon Conley. Instead, it was the Ravens who ordered the test, as Peter King of The MMQB writes. Once the results came in, Conley’s camp forwarded them to teams around the league, but the Raiders would not say whether the results impacted their evaluation of what happened. Conley will meet with Cleveland police on Monday and he’s “very confident that it will be resolved” (Twitter link via Michael Gehlken of the Las Vegas Journal Review). First, however, the 24th overall pick is headed to the Raiders’ facility on Friday to meet with team brass.

Zach Links contributed to this post.

NFC Draft Rumors: 49ers, Foster, Bucs, Cook

49ers GM John Lynch says that he came away from Day 1 with two of the top three players on his board. Had the Bears taken Solomon Thomas at No. 2, he says the team might have selected Reuben Foster at No. 3 (Twitter links via Matt Barrows of The Sacramento Bee).

Lynch managed to get both defenders when Foster took a somewhat unexpected slide. Armed with the additional draft capital afforded to him from the No. 2 and No. 3 swap with the Bears, Lynch moved back up into the late first round to get the Alabama inside linebacker. We’ll never know for sure if the Niners would have seriously considered Foster at No. 3, but it’s hard to deny that they got an excellent value by getting him late in the first.

Here’s more out of the NFC:

  • The Buccaneers passed on FSU running back Dalvin Cook in the first round in part because of what they’ve seen out of Doug Martin, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. Rapoport hears that he has been the most impressive player at the facility so far this offseason. Martin was disappointing, to say the least, in 2016, but he has shown in the past that he can produce like a top running back.
  • When asked if the player he had slotted for 37th overall was still on the board, Rams GM Les Snead said: “To be honest, yes,” (Twitter link via Alden Gonzalez of ESPN.com). Gonzalez suggests that receivers Zay Jones and JuJu Smith-Schuster and cornerbacks Kevin King and Quincy Wilson could be in consideration for the Rams.
  • With the No. 23 pick, some in the Giants‘ war room were pushing for Vanderbilt linebacker Zach Cunningham, Jordan Raanan of ESPN.com writes. Instead, they chose Ole Miss tight end Evan Engram. Cunningham remains on the board as we enter Day 2, but the Giants aren’t scheduled to be up until the 23rd pick in the second round (No. 55 overall).

Saints Rumors: Butler, Lattimore, Foster

Last night, Saints coach Sean Payton had a candid chat with reporters and shared some interesting info. Here’s a look at the highlights:

  • The coach said all of the trade possibilities the team previously considered for veteran cornerbacks “still remain open” depending on how the rest of the draft falls (Twitter link via Mike Triplett of ESPN.com). Payton, ostensibly, is referring to the Saints’ trade talks with the Patriots regarding Malcolm Butler. When New Orleans drafted Ohio State cornerback Marshon Lattimore with the No. 11 pick, many assumed that the team would back off of its pursuit. Personally, I don’t believe that the Saints will be willing to give up significant compensation for Butler now that they have Lattimore, particularly since locking him down will require a hefty contract.
  • Payton said the Saints even had talks about possibly trading up to land Lattimore. They also listened to offers to trade down, but ultimately stood pat (Twitter link via Triplett). He added that Lattimore was the team’s third or fourth ranked player on the board heading into the draft (Twitter link via Nick Underhill of The Advocate).
  • The Saints were considering Reuben Foster and Takkarist McKinley at No. 32 before they came off the board, Payton told reporters (Twitter link via Triplett). With both players gone, the Saints selected offensive tackle Ryan Ramczyk.
  • Payton views Ramczyk, who played left tackle at Wisconsin, as a right tackle (Twitter link via Herbie Teope of the Times-Picayune).

49ers Acquire No. 31 Pick From Seahawks

Who says you can’t trade within your division? The 49ers have acquired the No. 31 pick from the Seahawks. With that pick, they will select Alabama linebacker Reuben Foster. The Seahawks will receive pick Nos. 34 and No. 111 in the deal. Reuben Foster (Vertical)

Foster, at one point in time, was viewed as a top ten pick. However, his stock tumbled due to a handful of red flags.

  • Red flag #1: Bad shoulder.
  • Red flag #2: Getting into an argument with a hospital worker at the combine.
  • Red flag #3: Submitting a watered down urine sample at the combine.

Still, he is immensely talented. If he stays on the right track, Foster could prove to be one of the best values in the entire 2017 draft.

Our first mock draft had Foster going to the 49ers within the top ten. It took a little longer, but Foster has landed in San Francisco.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.