Reuben Foster’s shoulder injury appears to be more severe than initially reported, which further explains the former Alabama linebacker’s slide in the 2017 NFL Draft.
According to a source with knowledge of Foster’s injury (via ESPN.com), Foster’s surgery on his right rotator cuff in early February “didn’t take.” Another source told ESPN they felt Foster likely wouldn’t make it through his rookie season in San Francisco because his shoulder could give out on any hit.
Foster, considered a top 10 talent heading into the draft, also faced off-field issues after getting sent home from the NFL Combine and providing a diluted urine sample at the Combine’s drug testing.
ESPN reported that, because Foster was sent home from the Combine, the NFL did not have its own medical chart for him until a few days before the draft, which likely scared several teams interested in drafting him.
49ers coach Kyle Shanahan on Thursday said team doctors felt that Foster was recovering well from his shoulder injury, but did not acknowledge a potential worst-case scenario.
“The worst-case scenario is that the shoulder doesn’t heal correctly and you’ve got to do it again,” Shanahan told San Francisco radio station KNBR. “And then you have to do it again, you have to get another surgery. It would be tough to play this year, and you end up having him the next year.
“But it’s not something that would hurt him long-term,” Shanahan said. “So the worst-case scenario, he wouldn’t end up being able to play for us right away. But I still don’t think that would have changed how I personally felt about taking a guy with the 31st pick with the caliber of player that we took.”
The 49ers ended up trading with the Seahawks to get Foster with the No. 31 overall pick, its second first-round pick of the 2017 NFL Draft. Seattle got the 34th pick and the 49ers’ fourth-round pick (111th overall) in return.