TAMPA, Fla. -- The 49ers’ decision to release Reuben Foster wasn't about what might or might not have happened Saturday night at the team hotel.
General manager John Lynch said the organization had been very clear on their expectations for Foster. And the linebacker's arrest on probable cause of domestic violence was in clear violation of those standards.
“We laid out some very specific ground rules for Reuben, as we do for all our players,” Lynch told Bay Area reporters an hour before the 49ers were set to kick off Sunday against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
“We had a set of standards in place that the players were involved in developing. In this case, it was communicated exceptionally clear and to the point of what was expected out of him. Unfortunately, what transpired yesterday, this wasn’t a comment on what happened there, because that would be mere speculation on our part. It’s more of a comment on him not living up to what we had communicated, to the energy and the time that we invested into him.”
[MAIOCCO: Release of Foster is swift but justified]
Foster, 24, was previously accused of domestic violence from a February incident in Los Gatos. The accuser in that case, 28-year-old Elissa Ennis, later recanted her story under oath and admitted to lying to investigators.
Foster had another girlfriend, according to multiple sources. But Ennis visited him Saturday at the team hotel, where the incident occurred. Ennis told Tampa police that Foster slapped her phone out of her hand, pushed her in the chest area, and slapped her with an open hand on the left side of her face.
Lynch declined to answer specifics of the guidelines the 49ers put in place for Foster to remain in good standing with the team.
“Unfortunately, in life, there are consequences for your actions,” Lynch said. “And when you show bad judgment, particularly after something’s been communicated very clearly what the expectations are, there are consequences.
“And I think one lesson I’ve learned being around this league for almost 30 years now in different capacities is that nobody is bigger than the team. And that’s ultimately what this decision came down to for us.”
Lynch said the incident occurred in an area of the Grand Hyatt Tampa Bay that is not monitored by team security personnel. Generally, the 49ers take over two floors of a hotel for rooms and meeting space.
“It was not on our floors, I can say that unequivocally,” Lynch said of the location of the incident.
Lynch said he met Saturday night with coach Kyle Shanahan. They met with club ownership, and the decision to release Foster was agreed upon as an organization.
Foster was a first-round draft pick of the 49ers in 2017, and he was considered a character risk coming out of Alabama. Lynch said he does not regret picking Foster with the No. 31 overall selection. He said he will use it as a learning experience.
"Ultimately, we have to own it, and I have to own it," Lynch said. "But I think most of all, it’s just disappointment.
“One of our tenets is, 'Protect the team.' He didn’t protect the team. Like I said, nobody is bigger than the team. As talented of a player that he was, as many positive steps as he was making, we felt this was the best decision to make.”
Lynch said members of the organization continue to have a lot of love and support for Foster, whom Lynch said had shown signs of turning around his life and becoming a reliable professional. Foster remained in jail as the 49ers' game neared, and Lynch said he looked forward to speaking with the linebacker.
“Unfortunately, yesterday showed extremely poor judgment,” Lynch said. “And for that, we made this decision.”