Immediately after the first round of the draft, we all saw the story of Reuben Foster, former Alabama linebacker, saying he hung up on New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton because the 49ers were calling to draft him instead.
It turns out John Schneider was largely responsible for that — and he made the 49ers squirm a lot in the meantime, according to Peter King’s first-person account from the 49ers’ draft room.
The 49ers, who considered drafting Foster with the No. 3 overall pick, tried to get back into the first round for quite a while Thursday night. They talked to every team from 12 down to the Seahawks at 26. They originally offered the Seahawks their fourth-round pick to move up from 34.
Paraag Marathe, one of the 49ers’ decision makers along with new GM John Lynch and coach Kyle Shahanan, told Schneider: “John, we’ve got a nice juicy fourth pick in the fourth round, 111 overall, for you to move.”
Schneider, surely laughing his butt off at that offer, apparently said he liked their third-round pick, No. 67. Marathe said, “Yeah, I know, but we like 67, too.”
Schneider said he would think about it. (Yeah, for like minus-5 seconds.) He apparently told Marathe he had to hit the head.
“He’s got to pee,” Marathe told his 49ers’ cohorts. “He’ll call back.”
Whether Schneider had to pee, who knows? But he didn’t call them back. So Marathe called him 15 minutes later, asking, “Still in?”
Lynch: “Ask him how the pee was.” Shanahan: “Long one.”
Apparently, there was confusion over the trade chart. It sounds like the 49ers were using the old Jimmy Johnson model, while the Seahawks were using an updated version they had developed with a few other teams.
Schneider ended up trading down with the Falcons at 31, getting the third he wanted along with a seventh.
At 8:23 p.m., Marathe called Schneider again and Schneider put him on hold — much to the disbelief of Marathe. When Schneider was back on the line, Marathe said, “You’re on the clock, you know. … Call me back.”
A minute later, Marathe said, “I don’t think it’s happening.” A minute after that, Lynch called Schneider, who told him he was thinking about it. (He meant it this time.)
With 80 seconds left for the 31st pick, Schneider called back and said OK. The deal was for the fourth-round pick the 49ers originally had offered to get up to 26.
“Some people have that rule in their building, like you never trade within their division,” Schneider said. “I think on draft days, draft weekend, it’s just about moving around. To me, to us, it really doesn’t matter.”
While Schneider was yanking the 49ers’ chain all the way to the wire, Payton had called Foster and was telling him the Saints were going to take him at 32. Payton was talking to Foster’s girlfriend when Lynch called. Foster then just hung up on the Saints — happy to be a 49er.
Somewhat ironically, the Saints later acquired that No. 67 pick from the 49ers in a move up for running back Alvin Kamara.
As for Seattle’s move down to the second pick in Round 2, Schneider said he knew Green Bay would take one of three players with the first pick Friday, “so that’s why we felt comfortable being able to go where it went.”
The Hawks still got the guy they really wanted: Malik McDowell.
When Schneider called McDowell and told him the Seahawks were going to pick him, the GM cryptically said, “Remember our conversation, OK?”
Most took that as a reminder that Schneider expected McDowell to give maximum effort in Seattle — something he apparently did not do for Michigan State last season.
On Saturday, Schneider somewhat explained his comment: “We had him in for a visit; we had a great talk in my office. And then I called him a little bit before we selected him as well, to just make sure we were all on the same page.”