49ers

Where does the Reuben Foster situation go from here?

Where does the Reuben Foster situation go from here?

The Santa Clara County District Attorney’s office on Thursday announced charges against linebacker Reuben Foster that even the 49ers organization labeled as “disturbing.”

Foster remains a member of the 49ers, as the allegations that surfaced this week were not enough to prompt the 49ers to release him.

The DA’s office announced three felony charges:
--Domestic violence with an allegation that he inflicted great bodily injury;
--Forcefully attempting to prevent a victim from reporting a crime;
--Possession of an assault weapon (a Sig Sauer 516).

Foster is also charged with one misdemeanor:
--Possession of large capacity weapon magazine.

If convicted of those crimes, Foster faces more than 11 years in prison, according to the DA’s office.

A lot remains unanswered about Foster’s situation, but let’s start with these questions:

What happened on Feb. 11 in Los Gatos?
We only know what has been alleged.

And it appears obvious the decision-makers of the 49ers are skeptical of the information the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s office included in its report. One side of the story has been made public. The 49ers have heard the other side from Foster.

According to the DA’s office: “The victim told responding sheriff’s deputies and Los Gatos police that Foster dragged her by her hair, physically threw her out of the house, and punched her in the head eight to 10 times.”

The DA’s office reports the alleged victim was bruised and sustained a ruptured ear drum.

General manager John Lynch, coach Kyle Shanahan and others with the organization have spoken to Foster multiple times since his arrest. The 49ers likely did not know the nature of the allegations the DA’s office would report – or they remain unconvinced that is really what occurred.

In a statement the 49ers issued approximately 90 minutes after the formal charges were announced, the team described the allegations as “disturbing.”

The 49ers stated Foster’s future with the team will depend on what is learned through the legal process.

This is clear: If Foster hit the woman once – let alone eight to 10 times – and, certainly, if his actions caused her to sustain a ruptured ear drum, the 49ers do not have any other option but to release him.

Is there a double standard?
Lynch has bristled at the suggestion the 49ers cut Tramaine Brock within hours of his arrest after an alleged domestic incident last spring because Brock was not a good enough player to justify sticking with him. Lynch has noted Brock was a starting cornerback. The 49ers’ weakest position last season was cornerback.

CEO Jed York spoke two weeks ago at the NFL owners meetings about the difficulty of figuring out the truth in events such as these. The club has repeatedly stated all situations are unique. The 49ers concluded very early through the flow of information after the alleged Brock incident that it was best to cut ties with him than let the legal process fully play out.

The 49ers spoke with Brock, and almost immediately cut him. The 49ers talked with Foster, and have decided to let the legal process play out.

Two months after Brock’s arrest, the DA’s office formally charged him with the felony crime – just as it did Thursday with Foster. Two months after that, the DA’s office dismissed charges against Brock, citing lack of sufficient evidence after the alleged victim was uncooperative with investigators.

The NFL determined Brock did not violate the league’s policy on personal conduct, and he was cleared to continue his career without any discipline.

What are the differing stances of 49ers and DA’s office?
The 49ers announced on Thursday that Foster would not be cut at this time. The team stated Foster was aware his spot in the organization was “under great scrutiny.”

The 49ers clearly want to believe Foster. They want him on the team because he is a good football player and they invested a first-round pick in him last year when there were already questions about his character and his shoulder.

The DA’s office also appears to have extra motivation to prove its allegations against Foster. In a statement, prosecutor Kevin Smith made it clear he is looking to shine a light on domestic violence through this case.

“Our office handles between 4,000 and 5,000 domestic violence cases each year,” Smith said. “We only hope that this case illuminates the tragic regularity of the rest.”

The DA’s office sent the signal Thursday that it will press forward even if the alleged victim does not cooperate from this point forward.

There is likely to be talk of a plea agreement. But if Foster’s attorney, Joshua Bentley, does not believe there is enough evidence to convict Foster of the crimes with which he has been charged, he could put the pressure back on the DA’s office to either proceed with a trial or dismiss the domestic violence case.

What’s at stake for the 49ers?
Foster is, potentially, a great player. But is the pay off of sticking with him worth the risk of tarnishing the reputations of the new football regime? No – of course, not.

As a football player, Foster is expendable. The 49ers can plug in another player. Maybe that player will be nowhere near as dynamic as Foster, but life will go on – the team will adjust.

The 49ers already took a step to soften the blow for the potential of losing Foster with the signing of veteran linebacker Korey Toomer. He started 16 games over the past two seasons with the Los Angeles Chargers. The team can also look to add a player in the draft – even, perhaps, considering that player with the No. 9 overall pick.

But, at this point, if the 49ers were to release Foster without allowing him due process, the organization runs the risk of alienating the locker room, too. Richard Sherman and Jaquiski Tartt appeared in support of Foster at his court appearance Thursday afternoon. Foster’s teammates are watching how the club handles this, too.

What now?
The 49ers’ offseason program begins on Monday. Everyone will be watching to see if the 49ers advise Foster to remain away from the “voluntary” program at the team’s facility in Santa Clara.

York said recently it is a priority for the 49ers organization is to work proactively to prevent players from incidents in which Foster allegedly became involved in Los Gatos.

The 49ers have long held the belief that troubled individuals can often benefit from the structure and support of being around a team. Therefore, it would make sense that the 49ers would want Foster to take part in the offseason program to benefit from the programs the team has in place.

After all, Foster’s problems since coming to the NFL largely began when the season ended and he did not have that structure in his life. It could be viewed as counter-productive to, in essence, lock him out of the building.

At the same time, there are the poor optics involved in such a strategy. And the 49ers will come under their own “great scrutiny” if Foster is allowed to carry on without any ramifications while he remains under the suspicion of the serious allegations the DA’s office presented against him.

Eric Reid presents Colin Kaepernick Ambassador of Conscience Award

Eric Reid presents Colin Kaepernick Ambassador of Conscience Award

AMSTERDAM — Amnesty International gave former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick its Ambassador of Conscience Award on Saturday for his kneeling protest of racial injustice that launched a sports movement and might have cost him his job.

Onetime San Francisco 49ers teammate Eric Reid presented Kaepernick with the award during a ceremony in Amsterdam, the capital of the Netherlands.

In his acceptance speech, the award-winner described police killings of African Americans and Latinos in the United States as lawful lynchings.

"Racialized oppression and dehumanization is woven into the very fabric of our nation — the effects of which can be seen in the lawful lynching of black and brown people by the police, and the mass incarceration of black and brown lives in the prison industrial complex," Kaepernick said.

Kaepernick first took a knee during the pre-game playing of the American national anthem when he was with the 49ers in 2016 to protest police brutality.

"How can you stand for the national anthem of a nation that preaches and propagates, 'freedom and justice for all,' that is so unjust to so many of the people living there?" he said at Saturday's award ceremony.

Other players joined his protest in the 2016 season, drawing the ire of President Donald Trump, who called for team owners to fire such players.

In response to the player demonstrations, the NFL agreed to commit $90 million over the next seven years to social justice causes in a plan.

Kaepernick wasn't signed for the 2017 season following his release in San Francisco.

Reid, a safety who is now a free agent, continued Kaepernick's protests by kneeling during the anthem last season. Reid has said he will take a different approach in 2018.

Kaepernick paid tribute to his friend for his own role in the protest movement.

"Eric introducing me for this prestigious award brings me great joy," Kaepernick said. "But I am also pained by the fact that his taking a knee, and demonstrating courage to protect the rights of black and brown people in America, has also led to his ostracization from the NFL when he is widely recognized as one of the best competitors in the game and in the prime of his career."

Amnesty hands its award each year to a person or organization, "dedicated to fighting injustice and using their talents to inspire others."

Amnesty International Secretary General Salil Shetty called Kaepernick "an athlete who is now widely recognized for his activism because of his refusal to ignore or accept racial discrimination."

Previous recipients of the award include anti-Apartheid campaigner and South African President Nelson Mandela and Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani schoolgirl who campaigned for girls' right to education even after surviving being shot by Taliban militants.

"In truth, this is an award that I share with all of the countless people throughout the world combating the human rights violations of police officers, and their uses of oppressive and excessive force," Kaepernick said.

Five NFL Draft options if 49ers make first-round trade

Five NFL Draft options if 49ers make first-round trade

The 49ers have their starting and backup quarterbacks on the roster for at least the next three seasons. That luxury opens up their draft options to concentrate on other areas.

Quarterbacks Sam Darnold, Josh Allen, Baker Mayfield and Josh Rosen could be selected within the first eight picks of the draft. If those four quarterbacks are chosen, it means the 49ers will get – at worst – the fifth-ranked player on their draft board.

And if there is still one of those quarterbacks available when the 49ers go on the clock at No. 9 overall, it invites the possibility of a trade-back option.

The 49ers could trade back and still get one of the five players – Tremaine Edmunds, Roquan Smith, Minkah Fitzpatrick, Harold Landry or Marcus Davenport – highlighted as first-round draft options.

But if the 49ers move further back or acquire an additional pick in the first round, here are some of their options...

OT Mike McGlinchey, Notre Dame
The 49ers must start thinking about a time when two new offensive tackles are going to be required. McGlinchey (6-8, 312) began his career at right tackle before shifting to the left side. That versatility could come in handy for the 49ers, as right tackle Trent Brown enters the final year of his contract and might not be back in 2019. Moreover, six-time Pro Bowl left tackle Joe Staley is 34 years old, and it is uncertain how much longer he can play at a high level. McGlinchey has the athleticism that Shanahan covets. He began high school as a tight end and also played on the basketball team.

OT Kolton Miller, UCLA
Miller is an exceptional athlete who should get better and better. He ran the third-fastest time among offensive linemen at the combine and placed near the top of all the other agility drills. Miller started off his college career on the right side before shifting over to protect the blind side of quarterback Josh Rosen. With any offensive lineman the 49ers select, the club could consider having him begin his career at guard before moving him to tackle whenever the need arises.

CB Josh Jackson, Iowa
Jackson was among the 49ers’ final pre-draft visits to Santa Clara. The team needs another cornerback to join presumptive starters Richard Sherman and Ahkello Witherspoon. At 6-0 3/8, Jackson is not as tall as initially advertised, but his style of play and long arms would fit well within the 49ers’ scheme. He has great instincts, as shown by his nation-leading eight interceptions and 26 pass breakups.

WR Calvin Ridley, Alabama
The consensus best wide receiver in the draft could provide Jimmy Garoppolo and Kyle Shanahan with another option in the passing game to join starters Pierre Garçon and Marquise Goodwin. Garçon is the possession receiver and Goodwin is the deep threat. Ridley is versatile and polished, which makes him a nice chess piece to utilize early in his career for specific matchups.

WR Courtland Sutton, SMU
It should be noted that the 49ers like their receiver corps, a group that also includes Trent Taylor, Aldrick Robinson and Kendrick Bourne. But Sutton (6-3, 219) would give the 49ers more size to exploit matchups. He gets high marks off the field. There is no rush to get him out there before he is ready. The 49ers can take their time to develop him, as they would have him under their control contractually for five seasons. He has spent time learning from Anquan Boldin.