A week after his position coach became the latest to rave about Reuben Foster, the 49ers signed the rookie inside linebacker to a four-year contract.
The 49ers now have eight of their 10 draft picks under contract, with defensive tackle Solomon Thomas (No. 3 overall) and quarterback C.J. Beathard (third round) still unsigned.
Both general manager John Lynch and vice president of player personnel Adam Peters have said Foster, the No. 31 overall pick, was their favorite player in the draft. And 49ers linebackers coach Johnny Holland was also doing cartwheels when the 49ers traded up three spots to land Foster.
“That was a dream come true for a linebacker coach,” Holland said last week. “I think in the last 10 years — he’s probably been one of the best inside linebackers that’s come out of college football. To have him in our building, to be able to coach a guy like that, is valuable for our team …
“I felt like he was a top end of the (first-round) guy and we get him at the bottom end of the (first round). We’re just glad we got him.”
Last year, Foster was a first-team AP All-American, the SEC Championship Game MVP and the winner of the Butkus Award, which is given to the nation’s top linebacker.
However, he slipped in the draft because of healthy and the off-the-field concerns. Foster had shoulder surgery before the combine. At the combine, he failed a drug test and was dismissed after he got into an argument with a hospital employee.
Amid multiple reports that Foster will require a follow-up shoulder surgery, Foster and the 49ers have expressed confidence that he will ready for training camp in late July. Foster has been participating in offseason practices on a limited basis.
“We’re not going to rush him,” Holland said. “We’re going to make sure he’s healthy and ready to go. He should hit the ground running and not miss a beat.”
Holland, a linebacker with the Packers from 1987-93, was asked about the qualities Foster possesses that make him special.
“Reuben has a natural ability to find the ball and strike guys and hit,” Holland said. “He’s a physical player, an athletic player that can play from sideline-to-sideline. He has a very good understanding of the game. It’s hard to find an overall linebacker that run, strike and hit.”
Foster weighed 229 pounds at the combine. Holland said he’ll probably weigh more as a rookie, but his weight doesn’t worry him.
“If he can hit like he hit in college, he can weigh whatever he weighed in college,” Holland said. “We’re not too concerned about his weight.”