San Francisco 49ers: How to go about replacing Reuben Foster

San Francisco 49ers general manager John Lynch will need to address his 2018 NFL Draft board keeping the linebacker position in mind as his No. 1 priority, as losing Reuben Foster is more than a likely scenario.

In the 2017 NFL Draft, San Francisco 49ers general manager John Lynch decided to trade back into the first-round to select the talented, but much troubled Reuben Foster. Haunted with a checkered past, Lynch knew Foster came with serious baggage but did not blink an eye when selecting the enigmatic Foster.

Well, chickens come home to roost, don’t they.

On April 12, 2018, the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s office brought forward charges of multiple felonies that, if found guilty, would place Foster in prison up to 11 years. Deputy District Attorney Kevin Smith explained the charges and why Foster was charged with multiple felonies.

The 49ers’ response to the indictment:

The 49ers organization is aware of today’s disturbing charges regarding Reuben Foster. We will continue to follow this serious matter. Reuben is aware that his place in our organization is under great scrutiny and will depend on what is learned through the legal process.

Coming under serious scrutiny by the media, Ann Killion of the San Francisco Chronicle pulled no punches in shining the light on CEO Jed York and the 49ers organization.

Killion called out York and Lynch, writing:

Let me translate the 49ers’ statement for you: Don’t believe us when we say we will hold our employees accountable. Don’t believe us when we say we want to be a good community partner. Only believe that talent trumps trouble. Only believe that we think we know more than the D.A. does.

And believe that we will bend over backwards to accommodate a talented player whom we personally selected.

Hammer meet nail!

In recent days, the organization decided to keep Foster away from their facilities for team workouts and look to meet with Foster some time this week. Translation: the writing is on the wall. In my opinion, the 49ers and Foster will part ways.

As I write this article, Roquan Smith had met with the 49ers on Tuesday.

So what happens now? What is the plan moving forward for the 49ers and the linebacker position? Let’s look at some viable options.

In signing linebackers Brock Coyle and Korey Toomer, Lynch and Co. provided a stopgap situation at the position. Meaning the Niners would not need a knee-jerk reaction in attending to the linebacker spot. They are able to think things through and make an informed decision moving forward.

However, from my view, urgent positional needs for the 49ers are in this order:

  • Linebacker
  • EDGE
  • Boundary Cornerback
  • Offensive Linemen
  • Safety
  • Wide Receiver
  • Running Back

There are three elite linebackers in the 2018 NFL Draft class with everyone else on a second- to third-tier basis. None of these three will get out of the first round. This is why Lynch needs to get the best LB with his first selection.

  • Tremaine Edmunds, Virginia Tech
  • Roquan Smith, Georgia
  • Rashaan Evans, Alabama

I wrote a linebacker piece detailing athletes that are capable of playing in the 4-3 Under scheme defensive coordinator Robert Saleh truly defines.

Rashaan Evans, LB, Alabama

The 49ers have met with Smith (private visit), Evans (NFL Scouting Combine) and, most recently, Edmunds, per Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee.

I believe Smith is undersized for the NFL, and he will get washed by superior linemen because of his size. You can outrun college guys. But in the NFL, the big boys will find and conquer an undersized linebacker.

Not a good fit for the Niners.

Evans, on the other hand, fits comfortably in the 49ers defensive scheme. Evans is the No. 2 LB on my board, with the potential of making the Pro Bowl several times over.

I believe Evans should be the focal point of the 49ers in the first-round. San Francisco can get him between the Nos. 15 and 22 area of the draft. So by trading down, the Niners are able to pick up much-needed draft selections while getting the No. 2 linebacker in this draft.

At this point, and because of Foster’s downfall, the 49ers need to trade down to accrue more draft picks. There is talent in this draft, all the way down to the fifth to sixth rounds. And Lynch will need to make up for the fumbles made in Round 1 of the 2017 NFL Draft.

There are tough decisions to make leading up to the draft, and probably tougher decisions to be made on draft day. My eyes are on our fearless leader, John Lynch. I am hoping he doesn’t drop the ball in the first round yet again, but learns from his rookie mistakes and turns this ball club around with upstanding talented men.