Removing some of the luster from the 49ers’ widely celebrated draft, ESPN on Wednesday reported that other teams passed on linebacker Reuben Foster in the first round because they didn’t think his surgically repaired shoulder would hold up.
One source told Adam Schefter the surgery to repair a torn rotator cuff “didn’t take.” Another predicted Foster wouldn’t make it through his rookie season with the shoulder intact.
The 49ers selected Foster with the 31st overall pick and feel as if he can start next to NaVorro Bowman, who is coming back from Achilles surgery, at weak-side linebacker. The 49ers have said they were prepared to take Foster third overall if the Bears had taken Stanford defensive lineman Solomon Thomas with the second pick.
Foster has downplayed concerns about his shoulder, saying reports about him needing a second surgery were inaccurate.
“I’m making good progress,” he said last week. “I’ll be limited in OTAs. In training camp, I’ll be a full go. If it (were) my decision, I think I can go now.”
The 49ers – and perhaps the Saints, who were primed to take Foster at No. 32 – agree.
During the draft, according to Sports Illustrated’s Peter King, who was allowed inside the team’s draft room, general manager John Lynch called out to the head trainer, Jeff Ferguson, and asked if the 49ers were concerned with Foster’s shoulder.
“What shoulder?!” was Ferguson’s response, per King.
The 49ers have drafted a number of injured players in recent years, many of whom have had to sit out their rookie seasons. The rationale was that that they were getting good value on prospects who, if healthy, would have been taken higher. None of those players has flourished and most are no longer with the team.
Another first-round draft pick, Arik Armstead, revealed last month that he had been dealing with a shoulder issue since college. The issue was exacerbated in training camp last year, and Armstead eventually opted to have the shoulder surgically repaired.
Three ex-49ers claimed – Three of the players the 49ers released Tuesday were claimed by other teams Wednesday. Center Alex Balducci was picked up by the New York Jets, the Los Angeles Rams took nose tackle Mike Purcell and Carolina claimed defensive end Zach Moore.