49ers

Judge drops domestic violence charges against Reuben Foster due to insufficient evidence

Judge drops domestic violence charges against Reuben Foster due to insufficient evidence

SAN JOSE -- Reuben Foster no longer faces any charges of domestic violence, clearing the way for him to join the 49ers’ offseason program Thursday.

Judge Nona L. Klippen ruled Wednesday that the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s office did not show sufficient evidence during last week’s preliminary hearing to advance the case against Foster.

The judge also reduced the charge of possession of an assault weapon to a misdemeanor. A pre-trial hearing was scheduled for June 6.

The ruling at the Hall of Justice officially drops the charges against Foster of felony domestic violence with an allegation he inflicted great bodily injury and forcefully attempting to prevent a victim from reporting a crime.

Foster, 24, a linebacker who was a first-round draft pick in 2017, has not taken part in the 49ers’ offseason program, which began April 16. Despite some pressure from local media and the public, the 49ers did not remove Foster from the team.

Shortly after the ruling came down, 49ers general manager John Lynch released a statement:

“The organization is aware the domestic violence charges against Reuben Foster were dismissed earlier today. As a result, he will have the opportunity to rejoin the team tomorrow. It has been made clear to Reuben that his place on this team is one that must continue to be earned. We will continue to monitor the remaining misdemeanor charge," Lynch said.

Lynch said last month that the 49ers organization wanted to gather more facts. Coach Kyle Shanahan, echoing Lynch’s statement from days earlier, spelled out the 49ers’ policy on domestic violence.

“We can promise you guys if there’s someone who ever hits their significant other, their girlfriend, something like that, that person’s not going to be on our team,” Shanahan said.

Teammates Jaquiski Tartt and Adrian Colbert attended court on Wednesday in support of Foster. As he left the courthouse, Foster was asked how he was doing, he nodded affirmatively. Shortly before entering a black SUV to leave, he raised his right hand to give a "thumbs-up" sign.

Foster remains subject to discipline under the NFL's policy on personal conduct, which states a criminal conviction is not necessary for the league to take action.

"We continue to monitor all developments in the matter which remains under review," NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said in a statement.

Neither prosecutor Kevin Smith nor Foster’s attorney, Josh Bentley, stopped for comment on the way out of the courthouse. The DA's office released a statement approximately an hour after Judge Klippen announced her ruling:

“We are disappointed in the judge’s decision. We are disappointed because the evidence demonstrated that Mr. Foster seriously hurt his girlfriend. Some have wondered why we still think Mr. Foster hurt his girlfriend when she said that he didn’t. Recantation is common among domestic violence victims. Some are scared, some feel guilty, some are coerced, some need money. Whatever the cause, we move forward on cases when victims falsely recant because we know that if we don’t more victims will be hurt. Our commitment to domestic violence survivors is unwavering.”

Foster’s ex-girlfriend initially accused him on Feb. 11 of dragging her by the hair, punching her 10 times with a closed fist, spitting on her, and destroying her cell phone to prevent her from reporting the crime to police.

The woman, Elissa Ennis, recanted her testimony under oath last week at the preliminary hearing. Ennis testified last week that she attacked Foster with a clothes hanger. But when prosecutor Kevin Smith asked Ennis if Foster put his hands on her, she answered, “No, sir. Not once.”

The judge, in issuing her decision, said the injuries were not consistent with 10 punches in the face from a professional football player. The judge said the injuries were more likely the result of a fight that Ennis said had with another woman the night before the alleged incident with Foster.

Two days after the alleged incident at Foster’s home in Los Gatos, Ennis recanted her statements to police. Under oath on the witness stand last week, she admitted that she became enraged when Foster threatened to break up with her.

“I was going to f--- up his career,” she said on the stand. When asked why she stepped forward to tell the truth about her initial allegations, Ennis said, “I had to do the right thing.”

Ennis added, “It was all a money scheme. I didn’t want to get this far in the news.”

Ennis, who testified against the advice of her attorney, Stephanie Rickard, said she also stole more than $8,000 from Foster, as well as two men’s Rolex watches, which remain in a safe deposit box in Louisiana.

The judge said Ennis established a motive for the false report. Testimony also established that Ennis was unusually calm and composed while reporting the alleged incident. The judge also noted Ennis' history, in which she admitted to falsely accusing another man of domestic violence in 2011 when he threatened to break up with her.

There was also no evidence that Foster and Ennis were in an abusive relationship, the judge concluded. Foster did not exercise control over Ennis' finances or comings and goings, and there was no evidence he offered to compensate her for her testimony, the judge said.

The DA’s office filed the formal criminal charges on April 12. Ennis had already recanted her original statement to investigators and the DA’s office was made aware of a video that purportedly shows Ennis in a fight with another woman in San Francisco after a road rage incident in which her injuries could have been sustained one night before the alleged incident with Foster.

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

49ers sign OL Laken Tomlinson to three-year extension

49ers sign OL Laken Tomlinson to three-year extension

Guard Laken Tomlinson appears to have wrapped up a starting position on the 49ers’ offensive line, as the club signed him to a three-year extension on Thursday.

Tomlinson, who started the final 15 games of last season at left guard, is now signed through the 2021 season, the 49ers announced.

“Laken is a very talented player who has improved consistently since joining the team one week before last year’s season opener,” 49ers general manager John Lynch said in a statement. “This offseason, his hard work and dedication paid off as he continued to progress and performed at a high level. We were confident we could work out a contract extension with Laken and we are fired up to get that done before training camp.”

The 49ers acquired Tomlinson in a trade from the Detroit Lions for a 2019 fifth-round draft pick shortly before the start of last season. The Lions selected Tomlinson with the No. 28 overall pick from Duke in 2015.

The 49ers did not pick up the fifth-year option on Tomlinson for the 2019 season, which would have cost $9.625 million. Instead, the 49ers and Tomlinson agreed to a three-year extension worth up to $18 million with $10 million guaranteed, reports the NFL Network.

Tomlinson, 26, started 24 of 30 games in his first two seasons with Detroit. He entered the 49ers’ starting lineup in Week 2 and every game for the remainder of the season.

The 49ers appear to have four starting positions set along the offensive line, with Tomlinson and tackle Joe Staley on the left side. Veteran center Weston Richburg is slated to start at center, while rookie Mike McGlinchey is settling in at right tackle.

Joshua Garnett, Jonathan Cooper and Mike Person will compete at right guard during training camp, which opens on July 25.

Rookie LB Fred Warner is setting the tone for 49ers, but he might be a little too loud

fredwarner49erscampap.jpg
AP

Rookie LB Fred Warner is setting the tone for 49ers, but he might be a little too loud

When the 49ers selected inside linebacker Fred Warner of BYU in the third round of the draft, it was easy to see how he fit into the team's plan with the degree of uncertainty surrounding Reuben Foster.

While Foster remained away from the team’s offseason program for five weeks, Warner felt a need to get up to speed quickly if he was needed to be a starter for Week 1 of the regular season. Warner said he was determined to learn as quickly as possible at whatever position he lined up.

“They want consistency over a guy who can make a play here and there,” Warner said on The 49ers insider Podcast. “Because if you’re a liability and you’re out there missing assignments, stuff like that, that’s going to get you cut. You have to be able to retain this information very quickly and be able to produce on the field and put a good product out there. That’s the biggest thing.”

The 49ers consider the middle linebacker (mike) and weakside linebacker (will) positions as nearly interchangeable. The major difference is the mike position is the player who communicates in the huddle. Malcolm Smith is lining up with the first team at mike, while Foster is at will. Warner is leading the second team at mike.

Foster joined the 49ers’ offseason for the final four weeks after a judge dismissed two felony charges of domestic violence. Warner knew all about Foster, the player, before meeting him as a teammate.

“He’s a very physical player, and something I didn’t know about him that I know now, he’s probably the smartest guy in the room,” Warner said. “This dude has the memory of an elephant. He doesn’t have to write notes down. He just retains things very quickly. And I think that’s what allowed him to play at such a high level as a rookie last year, aside from his physical talent.”

Warner has also learned a lot from Smith, who played six NFL seasons before sitting out last year with a torn pectoral.

“We’ve worked after practice on man coverage on tight ends and running backs.,” Warner said. “Even though that might not be something we touch on in practice or a meeting, he just wants to touch on that with me because he said, ‘If you can do this, you can play on any team in the NFL.’ “

One of the few critiques of the rookie during the offseason program is that Warner, who said he was a quiet kid as a youngster, has been a little too loud.

“He’s very smart and he plays like it on the field,” 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said during the first week of OTAs. “He doesn’t hesitate. He’s a rookie out there, but he’s calling the plays maybe even too loud because I can hear him from the offensive side. But, he doesn’t mind speaking up. He’s confident in what he’s doing.”

Warner said he wanted to win the confidence of his teammates, so that might have contributed to his increased decibel level.

“I want to make sure that when I get in that huddle and I’m talking to these guys, that they know that I know what I’m doing and I’m ready to go,” Warner said. “I’m the one who’s going to set the tone in the huddle before the play even happens.”