Reuben Foster, the 49ers’ rising-star linebacker whose rookie season ended nearly two weeks ago, was arrested in Tuscaloosa, Ala., on Friday and charged with second degree possession of marijuana.
Foster was released Friday night on $2,500 bond. He played at the University of Alabama, which is in the city Tuscaloosa where the arrest occurred.
A Tuscaloosa spokeswoman verified the arrest in a Saturday email that said only that police encountered Foster at the intersection of Highway 69 and Oscar Baxter Drive in that city and found probable cause to arrest him for unlawful possession of marijuana. In Alabama, a second-degree marijuana charge is considered a Class A misdemeanor.
The 49ers issued a statement saying the “organization is aware of the matter involving Reuben Foster and we are currently gathering all relevant facts.”
Foster was considered the best inside linebacker in the 2017 draft and his rookie season with San Francisco bolstered that evaluation. He finished second on the team in tackles despite missing nearly seven full games with injuries and won praise for his hard-hitting style.
However, he dropped to pick No. 31 in the first round of the draft over concerns about the health of his right shoulder and red flags about his character. That includes being sent home early from the 2017 scouting combine after an altercation with a hospital worker and a diluted drug sample at the combine.
“We talked with Reuben about that and he apologized for it, admitted that it was a mistake. I think a lot of young people make mistakes,” general manager John Lynch said after selecting Foster with the second of the team’s two first-round picks in April. “You know, I would anticipate people maybe questioning some of his character, but I would tell you his character’s what drew us to him. When you start talking football with this young man he lights up a room, and he’s a good kid. I believe in the kid and I think it’s going to be, he’s going to be a great player for this organization for a long time.”
Asked specifically about the diluted drug sample, which automatically puts Foster into the NFL’s substance abuse program, Lynch said, “We spoke with Reuben about that and felt comfortable about that situation as well.”
Foster also threw a draft party that was sponsored by a company that makes vaporizers for tobacco and marijuana. Asked about that sponsorship at his introductory press conference, Foster said, “This is a new leaf and I’m not answering that. I’m not answering that. I’m sorry. Next question. I’m sorry, ya’ll.”
Earlier in the week, the 49ers hired former Raiders defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr. to coach the inside linebackers. One of the inspirations for the hire was that the team wanted a strong personality that could match Foster’s. Norton is a former linebacker who won three Super Bowls, two with the Dallas Cowboys and one with the 49ers.