First of all, welcome to San Francisco! This is truly one of the world's greatest cities and I hope that you will enjoy making your home here as much as I have.
To answer your first question, who gives whom what can go both ways. Ideally your Realtor gives you tons of data/listings and then you tell her what you want to look at. Some buyers (like yourself) are more proactive than others and some like to switch their search parameters and agents may or may not be able to keep up.
In the SF MLS, we have a new (since last fall) client portal feature that allows you access to your "folder" and you and your agent can communicate via comments made about each listing. Has your agent sent a client portal invitation to you?
Another excellent way to be proactive is if your agent subscribes to CleanOffer.com This allows you control over your searches and is more user-friendly than the MLS. In this instance, it is perfectly natural for you to be sending MLS #'s to your agent as you might be looking at properties that she didn't set up a search for on your behalf.
Most agents whom I know do both condos and houses. Some might only do new condos and some may specialize in TICs. None of these are so difficult that one can't learn or get assistance from a colleague.
I would recommend that if you want to buy a foreclosure, you spend more time and look at it inside and out. As Jed said, there are very few in San Francisco and most aren't in what many would consider "desirable" areas (close-in, appreciating, etc.). There are over 100 short sales or pre-forclosure properties currently in San Francisco and these tend to be 5-10% below the "normal market value"--or should be. The important issue here is to deal with an agent familiar with putting together a short sale package and it is more the listing agent's responsiblity so presumably, s/he would know how to do so. As less than 2% of agents are "short sale savvy" as they require more work and don't always pay as much, most agents shy away from or refuse to deal with short sales.
If you are serious about a pre-foreclosure property, mention this to your agent in your heart-to-heart, and if she is neither familiar nor comfortable with this type of listing, perhaps she could refer you to someone who is so she would at least get something for the time that she has spent with you.
My last two questions to you would be: 1) are you pre-approved with a local lender? By doing this step, you are definitely demonstrating that you are able to buy. Then it comes down to being ready and willing. Frequently in SF, you need to make a decision about making an offer on a property within 24-48 hours after seeing it and be prepared to be one of many bids, face rejection and maybe even over-bid. Good properties that are in decent condition, location and well-priced go fast. (I showed a property last Sunday that got 7 pre-emptive offers and went 20% over the day after the first Open House!) So last question 2) are you ready and willing to move quickly if you see the right property?
Your agent didn't get to be in the top 1% by not doing things right. Yes, you need to ask her some questions but ask yourself a few too.
That said--Good Luck!!!