Toby Gerharts fame still looms large in the Bay Area fromhis gridiron days with the Stanford Cardinal.The six-foot, 234-pound running back will return for thefirst time since a preseason game in his rookie season two years ago when theMinnesota Vikings come to Candlestick Park on Friday for a preseason matchupwith the 49ers.Gerharts success at Stanford was legendary, nearlyculminating in a Heisman Trophy his senior year. Gerhart rushed for 1871 yards with28 touchdowns in 2009, both school records. He also won the Pac-10 OffensivePlayer of the Year Award and the Doak Walker Award. Gerharts 3,522 careerrushing yards at Stanford are the second most in school history, and his 44 rushingtouchdowns top the school list.After being selected in the second round of the NFL Draft bythe Vikings, Gerhart has worked to produce while backing up four-time ProBowler Adrian Peterson. Gerhart rushed for 531 yards last season with a 4.9yards-per-carry average. He also caught three touchdown passes.Gerhart has a short chance to make a name for himself at theprofessional level this season while Peterson recovers from a torn ACL sufferedin a Dec. 24 game against the Washington Redskins. Peterson will miss the preseason,though he could be back in time for the Vikings regular-season opener on Sept.9.Gerhart isnt the only Bay Area name returning for Fridays49ers game. Ex-49ers head coach Mike Singletary will face his former team forthe first time as linebackers coach and assistant head coach for the Vikings.Singletary joined the Vikings coaching staff in January 2011 after the 49ersfired him following a Week 16 loss to the St. Louis Rams in 2010.Colin Becht is an intern with CSNBayArea.com and a senior at Northwestern University.
So after one day of the NFL Draft, we know the following:
1. Roger Goodell could be booed on the surface of the sun, and if you don’t think so, let’s all agree to give that thesis a try.
2. The Oakland Raiders have invested a lot in Gareon Conley’s word.
3. John Lynch is either a swindler, or he was presented with a deal that only an idiot could refuse.
Let’s do Goodell first. He was booed lustily and often by the huge Philadelphia crowd, and though he would be booed anywhere (and he half-heartedly asked for more with a smile that looked more like a dog sticking his head out of a speeding car window), Philadelphia booing causes osteoporosis.
Next, we go to the Raiders, who used the 24th pick in the draft to take Conley, the secondary man from Ohio State who is being investigated for rape. Conley has maintained his innocence, putting out a statement denying all the accusations, and TMZ claims to have a video that calls into question the woman’s story. In other words, nobody can be sure of anything quite yet.
Except the Raiders seemed sure enough to take him, and general manager Reggie McKenzie said the team investigated him and the incident thoroughly. In short, given Mark Davis’ stated opposition to employing players involved in violence against women, McKenzie better be right, and close enough to right to assuage any misgivings Davis or the customer base might have.
As far as Conley the player, check back with us in at least two years.
Finally, there is Lynch, who squeezed (or was amazingly offered) three picks from Chicago Bears’ general manager Ryan Pace in exchange for one place in the draft. Pace, who was immediately described by Wikipedia as “the soon-to-be former general manager,” took North Carolina quarterback Mitchell Trubisky, whom the 49ers had little interest in.
In other words, Lynch either pulled a fast one, or had a fast one handed to him. Either way, the 49ers got Solomon Thomas, the defensive lineman from Stanford they had long coveted, plus a third-round pick tomorrow, one next year and one in the fourth round that they helped spin into Reuben Foster, the Alabama linebacker who fell from much loftier draft positions apparently because of shoulder concerns.
In short, McKenzie got a much-needed secondary man who might end up being more trouble legally than he is worth athletically (though the level of doubt here is sufficient to jump to no conclusions quite yet), and Lynch won a reputation as the young Billy The Kid, smiling precociously while he robs you at gunpoint.
Time will tell whether he also gets to be called a great talent evaluator, but for the moment, don’t ask him to hold your wallet. That, kids, is the highest compliment a general manager can receive on the first night of his first NFL Draft.
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.