San Francisco 49ers LB Reuben Foster might be melting down.
The past two off-seasons have not been kind to the Crimson Tide alumni who created a stir at the 2017 Scouting Combine when he intimated a nurse and provided a diluted urine sample.
These character concerns and questions about his physical availability sunk his draft stock. As a result the 49ers grabbed him for a steal with the 31st pick.
Foster flashed his trademark intensity and field smarts during his rookie year but he also missed several games due to a high ankle sprain and back spasms.
But with the team trending upwards now that they have a legit quarterback, Foster is imploding.
Last month he was arrested for second-degree marijuana.
On Sunday he was arrested on charges of domestic violence, assault-weapon possession, and making threats.
The 49ers were quick to address the situation in a press statement.
“The San Francisco 49ers organization is aware of the report regarding Reuben Foster,” the statement stated. “We take matters of this nature seriously and are gathering all pertinent information.”
Obviously this is not a good look.
A domestic violence/ possession charge is the ultimate combo platter of NFL disciplinary action.
By the letter of the law, Foster could miss at least six games in the upcoming season on the domestic violence accusation alone.
With Roger Goodell still in charge, it stands to reason that Foster will be made an example of.
This is not his first rodeo as he came into the league with issues. Thanks to the diluted drug test he was enrolled in the league’s substance abuse program from day one.
The arrest for possession plays to that point and Sunday’s charges firmly place him into Aldon Smith territory.
Foster was already walking the tightrope of a second chance. The media hyperbole that surrounded his pre-draft issues should have been enough to force the young man to think about the consequences that come from poor choices.
The estimated loss of his draft plunge is $4.4 million dollars. That certainly should have gotten his attention.
And then there is the fact that he was certainly counseled privately by the team that made a large investment in his success.
As the details come forth, it’s important to remember that in this society guilt equals presumed innocence for criminal matters.
But in the NFL, being with or around the wrong situations are enough to paint young stars into a corner.
The arresting officers in Los Gatos-Monte Sereno saw enough at the scene of the incident to take Foster into custody and that might be a professional death sentence.
The timing of this could not be worse for Foster.
The 2018 NFL Draft is still looming as is the start of free agency.
The 49ers own the 9th pick in the draft this year. The only team that picks before them with a desperate need for an inside linebacker is the Indianapolis Colts.
The reality is the Colts need EVERYTHING and will most likely spend their first pick on a guard to protect Andrew Luck.
This means that San Francisco could opt to pull in Georgia linebacker Roquan Smith if its forecasted that Foster will miss a extensive amount of time.
Foster is a beast but so is Smith who is slightly quicker than Foster is and is better in pass coverage. Smith would especially useful defending division opponent (and fellow Bulldog) Todd Gurley who creates nightmare matchups in the screen game.
Smith can flip from ILB to OLB easily from snap-to-snap and this provides added value when creating matchups with another divisional playmaker in Russell Wilson.
In short, the 49ers have a key low-cost option that is obtainable if the details of Foster’s situation prove to be super ugly.
If the Smith option isn’t enough, the 49ers could opt for a veteran presence in the Jags’ Paul Posluszny if he makes it to the market.
The reality check is this everyone can be replaced. Reuben Foster will most likely miss time in some way, shape or form. The 49ers are ready to win now and they have options.
Watch: Reuben Foster Pre-NFL Highlights