Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports



San Francisco 49ers general manager John Lynch had some time to talk to Alex Flanagan of NFL Network on Friday morning and was asked about the team's two first-round draft picks – defensive lineman Solomon Thomas and linebacker Reuben Foster.

Lynch explained that Thomas was a little bit behind in the learning process because of the league rules that prevented the rookie from joining his teammates prior to the completion of Stanford's finals.

"But he's a quick learner," Lynch said. "And you see the explosive qualities. We think he can be a game wrecker for years to come."

Lynch then discussed Foster, who was the second of the team's first-round selections in April. There was some concern around the NFL that Foster's surgically repaired right shoulder would cause him to miss much, if not all, of the 2017 season. That concern caused teams to pass on drafting him, which is why he fell to the 49ers with the 31st overall pick.

Lynch was asked if Foster has lived up to expectations.

John Lynch: Reuben Foster has lived up to every expectation so far

"He's lived up to it and then some," Lynch said. "He's been all over the field. Has had a great attitude. He's got good players that are lining up in front of him right now. He hasn't complained once. When he's getting his opportunities, he's doing what he's always done – making plays. He's got a special energy and magnetism around him. He's always got a smile on himself. And he kind of lifts, even as a rookie, he lifts the spirits of everyone on the field."

On Thursday, Foster had an opportunity to get some work in at the Mike linebacker spot on the first-team defense. Linebacker NaVorro Bowman had a veteran day off and Brock Coyle was out with an injury. That bumped Foster, who was originally scheduled to work with the second-team unit, up to the first-team. The coaching staff had Foster practice at the Mike linebacker spot because it wanted him to gain some experience making the defensive calls.

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Lynch went on to say that it will be difficult to keep Foster off of the field but the rookie linebacker will have to earn his role on the 49ers defense. It is expected that Foster will work his way up to a starting linebacker position at some point in 2017, if not right out of the gate when the 49ers host the Carolina Panthers at Levi's Stadium on September 10.

"Reuben will appreciate it more if he has to earn it and he's doing his best to do just that," Lynch said.

Following Thursday's practice, 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan was asked to evaluate Foster's performance. Shanahan said that the Mike position is similar to where Foster has been practicing with just some communication differences.

"He did solid," Shanahan said. "I'll watch more when I see the tape. We threw him at a different position today for the first time. Threw him at somewhat of a Mike linebacker. We rested a number of our guys so it gave him some [opportunities]. I thought he did a good job. We just threw him in there and he started moving a lot. He's got to make all the calls. I think like anybody in his first time at it, I think he had a few busts. But I think there's good stuff for him to get in and watch the tape and learn from."