Fall 2021 SS Magazine

49ers Send Team Chaplain To Meet With Prospect Before Drafting Him

Thirty two players achieved a dream last night and found a new job in the National Football League being selected in the first round.

The San Francisco 49ers were the most active team, making a trade to move down one spot from No. 2 to No. 3 with the Bears. In the deal, they also got picks number 67 and 111 this year and a third-round pick in 2018.

With the third overall selection, they chose DT Solomon Thomas from Stanford. ESPN’s Todd McShay said Thomas was “the total package” and thinks the 49ers got one of the best players on the board.

But it was the 49ers second pick in the first round that really opened some eyes. After trading some of their assets to move back into the first round, the 49ers selected linebacker Reuben Foster with the 31st overall pick.

Niners GM John Lynch says he was thrilled to get Foster, one of the top 5 players on his board, that late in the first round. ESPN reported that Lynch and his club had eyes on Foster long before Thursday Night. In order to cover all their bases, they even sent their team chaplain, Earl Smith down to Tuscaloosa, Alabama, where Foster lives, and met with him for two days.

“We were exhaustive in getting to know the kid,” Lynch told ESPN. “It felt genuine. That’s something we loved about Reuben is that he’s really genuine, he’s got a smile that lights up a room, and the way he plays football is special.”

Smith, who serves as team chaplain with the 49ers and the Golden State Warriors, was accompanied on the trip to Alabama with San Francisco’s Vice President of Football Affairs, and former Linebacker, Keena Turner.

Reuben Foster felt slighted dropping down to the end of the first round, but understands that he has an exciting new opportunity in front of him.

“I’m trying to be the great, the next Patrick Willis, the next great linebacker in their history,” Foster told ESPN. “I was very surprised. I thought I wasn’t going to make it. I thought I wasn’t going to make it, but I’m just happy that they just believed in me and just trusted in me and to pick me and just give me a chance.”

Day 2 and 3 of the NFL Draft continue on Friday and Saturday on ESPN and the NFL Network.