Weight: 229 pounds
Selection: First round, No. 31 overall
SANTA CLARA – The 49ers jumped back into the first round to select Alabama linebacker Reuben Foster.
Foster, a tackling machine who was the winner of the Butkus Award as the nation’s top linebacker, was selected at No. 31 overall after a trade with the Seattle Seahawks.
The 49ers traded the second pick of the second round (No. 34 overall) and a fourth-round pick at No. 111 to move up three spots to select Foster. The 49ers acquired the No. 111 pick earlier in the day in a trade back with the Chicago Bears.
Foster is expected to make an immediate impact for a team that ranked last in the league in total defense. He could line up next to NaVorro Bowman, who returned to the practice field this week during a minicamp after sustaining a torn Achilles early last season.
Foster visited the 49ers’ headquarters last month and made a strong impression.
“He came in, and we had a nice visit with him,” 49ers general manager John Lynch said at the NFL owners meetings in Phoenix.
Foster was a unanimous first-team All-American and All-SEC pick. But Foster has been the center of controversy since the end of the season. He was sent home from the NFL scouting combine after allegedly getting into a confrontation with a hospital worker in Indianapolis.
“I think that’s why you do those things,” Lynch said. “You try to gather information, and react and make decisions accordingly. And so that’s why these things are valuable.”
After the 49ers met with Foster, it was revealed he entered into the league’s program on substances of abuse due to a dilute urine sample.
“I’m trying to be the next Patrick Willis, the next great linebacker in the history,” Foster said on a conference call with Bay Area reporters shortly after he was selected.
Foster, who was expected to be a strong candidate to be selected in the top-10 of the draft, said he was surprised he was still be available after 30 picks in the draft.
“I’m just happy they believed in me and trusted in me to pick me and give me a chance,” Foster said. “I got to prove my passion for the sport. I got a chip on my shoulder. I got big things to prove.
“People think about the character off the field, and everything. I got to show them how serious I take my job.”
When asked to describe his game, Foster said, “Savage.”
He added, “If I didn’t have football, I’d have nothing but my family.”
Foster said he is 90-percent recovered from offseason shoulder surgery and he will be ready for the opening of training camp.