San Francisco 49ers

49ers mailbag: Should we be worried about Reuben Foster?

San Francisco 49ers' Reuben Foster signs autographs for fans before practicing at an NFL football training camp in Santa Clara, Calif., Saturday, Aug. 5, 2017.
San Francisco 49ers' Reuben Foster signs autographs for fans before practicing at an NFL football training camp in Santa Clara, Calif., Saturday, Aug. 5, 2017. AP

Brick by Brick‏ @BrickbyBrick49 What will happen to Rueben Foster after the incident? (Foster was arrested in Alabama on Friday).

ANSW: No one is quite sure. Reuben Foster may have to forfeit $2.5 million in salary guarantees in the last three years of his contract. Per CBS’ Joel Corry, who is a former agent, he also may be subject to a one-game suspension as part of the league’s personal conduct policy.

Kevin‏ @shortywest87 How much should we be worried about Reuben being a suspension-every-year kind of guy?

ANSW: Well, on one hand he was arrested for second-degree pot possession, which isn’t exactly knocking over the central bank and isn’t even illegal in the state in which he is employed. That said, he still could be suspended for it, which makes it a lapse in judgment. Those kind of lapses were partially why teams bypassed him in the first half of the draft. There was a lot written about Foster after he was sent home from the combine last year and failed a drug test there. Most of the questions, according to a MMQB item, had to do with maturity issues and with the people Foster has surrounding him. It’s a reason the 49ers wanted to hire Ken Norton Jr. – to instill some of the discipline Foster may be lacking.

The Half Baked Conservative ‏ @HalfBakedCon Is Malcolm Smith’s job at risk? Makes huge $ and Foster’s best position might be WILL. It seems likely they’ll add an MLB this offseason.

ANSW: It’s true. Malcolm Smith has a huge salary. But as with questions about Jimmie Ward’s 2018 salary, it really doesn’t matter. The 49ers will have scads of salary-cap space. If these guys underachieve, then they’ll be gone before 2019. The point is that the 49ers can afford to sit back, evaluate and see what their true value is. Defensive coordinator Robert Saleh really likes Smith and believes the “Will” spot in the 49ers’ defense is the ideal position for him. (And that Foster is an ideal “Mike”). And Smith certainly looked the part prior to his season-ending pectoral injury in August. You have to wonder how jazzed Smith was at the prospect of being coached by Norton. There was a sentiment that Smith was misused under Norton in Oakland.

Christopher Cain‏ @C_Allan_Cain Odds they draft LB out of Alabama as Foster insurance?

ANSW: Rashaan Evans? Low considering that the 49ers already have invested heavily at linebacker and because Evans might go somewhere in that yawning gap between the 49ers’ first and second picks. But I really like him. Could play all three of San Francisco’s linebacker spots (but perhaps not at the same time).

Jason Lindsay‏ @JLindsay49 With all the talk about Quenton Nelson, is he a system fit? He looks huge and maybe not as agile as a Guard would need to be.

ANSW: I agree that he seems more power-football mauler than dancing bear. (Mike Singletary would have broken out in hives at the thought of acquiring Nelson). That perception may stem in part from how he was used at Notre Dame, but it’ll be interesting to see how he looks and performs at the combine. You would think that if a team was going to use a top-10 pick on a guard, that guard would be ideal for the team’s system. Take a look at Virginia Tech’s Wyatt Teller. He might be a better system fit for the 49ers and is someone the 49ers could land on Day 2.

Jimmy Geesus‏ @KareemMuller What unexpected cap casualty guys do you see hitting the market that the 9ers could look at?

ANSW: He’s not necessarily a cap-casualty guy, but ... we’ve talked about Ezekiel Ansah in this space a lot. Apparently, Ansah-to-49ers is being discussed in NFL circles as well. It’s all-smoke-no-fire at this point, of course, but there’s a thinking that Ansah might not be as well suited for a Matt Patricia-style defense as he would for San Francisco’s version of the 4-3.

Sean Morgan‏ @gamerollerb Is Joe Staley really going to keep playing under his current contract? He’s ridiculously under paid.

ANSW: If there’s a time to ask for more money, it’s now. Staley finished the season strong and the 49ers have an abundance of salary-cap space. Heck, the 49ers might even feel less constrained about going after free-agent linemen if they weren’t worried about the newcomer making more than Staley, the line’s de facto captain.

Os Cruz‏ @ThatOsCruz Do you know if any expected UFA’s are already engaged in extension talks with the 49ers? Any that are actually looking to test the market?

ANSW: I’ve called around. It seems like there have been some preliminary talks with some guys – “We’re interested in having your client back, etc., etc.” – but nothing hard and fast yet. That could come next month when everyone is at the scouting combine.

Jerrod Robinson‏ @bathebay Heard Colin Cowherd say a couple weeks ago he has a good source who said the first couple picks will be offense. Hearing any rumors or do you think it will just be BPA?

ANSW: It’s January. No one knows what the first couple of picks would be. At this time last year Foster, Jonathan Allen and Jabrill Peppers were sure-fire top-10 picks and Patrick Mahomes was a second rounder. That said, it makes total sense for the 49ers to take an offensive tackle or running back at some point in the first three rounds.

Want to feel even better about the 49ers’ strong finish? No team relied as heavily this past season on rookies. At least 10 played in every game from Week 4 onward. Matt Barrows has broken down the rookie class, and here's a brief look at the top

Matt Barrows: @mattbarrows, read more about the team at sacbee.com/sf49ers.

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