Here are five things to know about Friday night’s victorious debuts of 49ers first-round draft picks Reuben Foster and Solomon Thomas in Kansas City:
1. No picks. Reuben Foster let out a playful grimace as he recalled breakup up a pass in the end zone instead of intercepting it to cap his first-ever series in a 49ers uniform.
The rookie linebacker has never intercepted a pass in a game — at Auburn High School, the University of Alabama or Friday’s NFL debut. He does, however, have four interceptions in training camp practices.
“A lot of guys were teasing me about the pass break-up. I could have caught a pick,” Foster said. “I catch all these picks at practice and I can’t catch one in the game when the lights come on.”
2. Versatility is key. Foster started at weak-side linebacker, then moved to middle linebacker in relief of NaVorro Bowman while other linebackers nursed injuries. Foster got credited with two tackles.
“I hope I did great. We’ll find out (Saturday) when we watch that film,” Foster said. “But overall as a team, we fought and overcame some adversity and did great.”
3. Butterflies instantly vanish. Thomas, the No. 3 overall pick, was “antsy” as he waited to rotate in and debut. “I wanted to get in,” Thomas said. “But I definitely waited my turn, let the ones do their thing, then get in and do what I had to do.”
He did quite well on his first play, pressuring Chiefs quarterback Tyler Bray into throwing a pass Rashard Robinson intercepted. Later, Thomas’ pressure nearly resulted in a sack but instead an Aaron Lynch pass break-up.
4. Working overtime. Coach Kyle Shanahan wanted his top rookies to see significant action, but injuries to others forced Foster and Thomas to stay on the field longer. Said Thomas: “I missed a lot of time in OTAs so it’s good for me to get these reps.”
Defensive linemen DeForest Buckner (ankle) and Ronald Blair (groin) left with injuries. The linebacker corps was without Malcolm Smith (injured reserve), Brock Coyle (rib) and eventually newly signed Sean Porter (quadriceps).
5. Roommates. Foster and Thomas aren’t exactly getting special treatment as first-round draft picks. They each had to share a locker with another player inside Kansas City’s cramped locker room — Foster with Noble Nwachuwku and Tomas with D.J. Jones.
At the 49ers’ Santa Clara hotel during training camp, Foster and Thomas are roommates.
“It’s definitely good to get that chemistry down, get some reps and get ready for the season,” Thomas said of their time sharing the field Friday.
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