The 49ers mined their way back into the first round on Thursday night to add one of the draft's most fascinating defenders.
San Francisco struck a trade with the Seahawks, acquiring Seattle's pick at No. 31 overall to select hard-hitting Alabama linebacker Reuben Foster. In exchange, the 'Hawks netted the 34th pick in the second round along with the Niners' pick at No. 111.
Despite some questions, Foster gives the 49ers an immediate impact performer at the linebacker position. The 6-foot, 229-pound thumper devastated opponents in college with a ferocious hitting style and solid coverage skills.
"I don't say this lightly, but he reminds me of (Carolina Pro Bowler) Luke Kuechly," NFL Network's Mike Mayock said, adding: "Sideline to sideline, he makes big hits."
The Alabama star slipped through the first round for, potentially, a couple of reasons: He failed his Combine drug test due to a diluted sample and was later sent home from the event after getting into an altercation with a hospital employee. On Thursday, 30 teams also passed on him amid concerns over a shoulder injury that some fear could be more serious than previously believed.
If Foster checks out, though, this is an incredible steal for a 49ers defense that also added defensive end Solomon Thomas to the NFL's worst defense from a year ago.
"Probably the hardest hitter, best range and biggest playmaker of the group," one scout said of Foster to Bob McGinn of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. "Not a real bright guy, but seems to see the game very, very well. Whether he can hold up is the main concern."