TAMPA, Fla. -- Kyle Shanahan drew a clear line during the offseason about what would not be tolerated from his players.
The coach said if anyone hit a woman, that player no longer would be an employee of the 49ers.
He made the statement in April, approximately one month before Reuben Foster’s accuser recanted her allegations that the linebacker had hit her. A Santa Clara County judge ruled there was not enough evidence to proceed with the criminal case, so the 49ers' patience appeared justified, and Foster remained on the team.
But when Foster was arrested Saturday night at the team hotel following an incident involving the same woman, Elissa Ennis, there was no need for the 49ers to find out more details. Shanahan said he knew "right away" the 49ers had to move on from Foster.
“This was based off other stuff,” Shanahan said after the 49ers’ 27-9 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
“I don’t know whether that’s right or wrong. We’ll see what happens in the court of law. I wasn’t there. But too many things have happened. We’ve tried to help him out a lot, and I know he’s been trying, too. But this was a mess-up that doesn’t matter whether he did it or not.”
Foster, 24, was arrested at the team hotel at 9:10 p.m. local time. The accuser told Tampa police that Foster slapped the 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. Officers observed a one-inch scratch on the woman's left collarbone, according to the police report.
Shanahan met with 49ers general manager John Lynch on Saturday night. With the support of 49ers ownership, the decision was made to release Foster.
“I knew what we told Reuben, and he didn’t do what we asked him to do,” Shanahan said of the guidelines the team put in place during the offseason.
Twelve hours after his arrest, the 49ers announced Foster would be released while he still was locked up at Hillsborough County Jail. Foster knew the rules, Shanahan said, and he broke them. He also irreparably broke the trust he was trying to rebuild with his employer.
“It’s been too much,” Shanahan said. “I care about Reuben, but no one’s more important than this team. Our No. 1 rule is you got to protect the team, and he put us in a bad light too much. Hopefully this will fix him, and he can still be successful somewhere else.”