Reuben Foster's future with 49ers hinges on domestic violence case

Reuben Foster's future with 49ers hinges on domestic violence case

San Francisco 49ers linebacker Reuben Foster is scheduled to appear in Santa Clara County Superior Court on Thursday for his preliminary hearing in front of a judge on three felony charges.

Foster's future with the 49ers will depend on what is discovered in relation to the two domestic violence charges.

“We can promise you guys, if there's someone who ever hits their significant other, girlfriends, some person like that, that person is not going to be on our team,” 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said April 26 when asked about Foster’s status with the team.

“I feel strongly about that. I know John (Lynch) does. I know our ownership does. That's how we feel about it. Obviously, Reuben is on our team right now, so we're waiting to see how that goes. But, if that's something that we felt he did or ended up happening, you guys will see how we feel.”

Foster has remained away from the 49ers' formal offseason conditioning program while his case goes through the legal process.

Here is what has transpired in the case up to this point:

--On Feb. 11, Foster was arrested on suspicion of domestic violence after an alleged incident with his live-in girlfriend at their Los Gatos home. He was booked into Santa Clara County Main Jail on charges of domestic violence, threats and possession of an assault weapon, according to Los Gatos-Monte Sereno police. Bail was set at $75,000.

--On April 12, the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s office formally charged Foster with three felonies.

The felony charges were:

--Domestic violence with an allegation he inflicted great bodily harm;
--Forcefully attempting to prevent a victim from reporting a crime;
--Possession of an assault weapon.

The DA’s office reported the alleged incident left the woman “bruised and with a ruptured ear drum.”

The alleged victim stopped a stranger’s car on Shannon Road and called 911. She told responding sheriff’s deputies and Los Gatos police that Foster dragged her by the hair, physically threw her out of the house and punched her in the head eight to 10 times. The alleged victim was treated at a local hospital and released.

Officers found the weapon, a Sig Sauer 516, along with a large capacity magazine during a search of Foster’s home.

Foster was originally charged with possession of a large capacity ammunition magazine. That charge was dropped at the next court hearing.

--On April 25, the alleged victim, Elissa Ennis, 28, recanted her initial statement in the immediate aftermath of the incident. Ennis released a statement through her attorney, Stephanie Rickard.

Ennis’ injuries, according to her statement, were the result of a fight with another woman before the alleged incident with Foster. A videotape of the alleged fight, which Ennis’ attorney claimed proves her injuries were not caused by Foster, was delivered to the DA’s office.

After learning of the fight with the other woman, according to the statement, Foster tried to end his relationship with Ennis.

“She was extremely upset and told him if he broke up with her she would ‘trash his career,’ ” Rickard said. After realizing the severity of the charges against Foster, she went to the DA’s office to recant her initial statement. The DA’s office, apparently believing her first statement was the more accurate version of the events, filed the charges on April 12.

“(Foster) did not strike her, injure her or threaten her,” Rickard said. Ennis said in the statement the charges against Foster were based on her lies.

--On May 8, Foster, through his attorney, Josh Bentley, entered pleas of not guilty. The move expedited the legal process and forced the DA’s office to present its case within 10 days at a preliminary hearing.

--On Thursday, May 17, the preliminary hearing is scheduled to take place. The mini-trial, which is expected to last most of the day, will consist potentially of witnesses being called by the prosecution and defense. Ennis is expected to appear and take the stand under oath, and the judge will likely view the video evidence.

The judge will decide whether there is enough evidence to justify moving forward with a trial. The burden of proof in a California preliminary hearing is “probable cause.” If the case proceeds with any or all charges, a jury trial would be required to begin within 60 days.

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


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.”

Former 49ers lineman Keith Fahnhorst, 66, passes away


Former 49ers lineman Keith Fahnhorst, 66, passes away

Keith Fahnhorst, who played 14 seasons with the San Francisco 49ers and started on two Super Bowl-winning teams, died on Tuesday. He was 66.

Fahnhorst was among a large group of players from the 49ers’ first Super Bowl championship team that gathered at Levi’s Stadium in October in a celebration of Dwight Clark. Fahnhorst and Clark were teammates for the 49ers’ Super Bowl-titlle teams of 1981 and 1984. Clark passed away on June 6 from ALS.

Fahnhorst, who was in a wheelchair during his trip to the Bay Area last season, battled many physical ailments since his career ended in 1987. He was diagnosed with polycystic kidney disease and underwent a kidney transplant in 2002. Fahnhorst was also later diagnosed with primary progressive multiple sclerosis.

A second-round draft pick of the 49ers in 1974 from the University of Minnesota, Fahnhorst was a mainstay at right tackle as the organization struggled in the mid-to-late 1970s, then found success in the 1980s under coach Bill Walsh.

“Everybody knew they could count on Keith,” Walsh said in the 2005 book, “San Francisco 49ers: Where Have Gone?”

Fahnhorst appeared in 193 regular-season games, ranking behind only Len Rohde among offensive linemen in 49ers history. He started 170 games, including all 10 postseason games in which he appeared. He was named to the NFC Pro Bowl team and was selected as a first-team All-Pro after the 1984 season. He was a two-time winner of the Bobb McKittrick Award for best representing the courage, intensity and sacrifice displayed by the longtime 49ers offensive line coach.

Keith Fahnhorst and his younger brother, Jim, were 49ers teammates for the final four years of Keith’s career. Jim Fahnhorst, a linebacker, played for the 49ers from 1984 to 1990. Neither Keith nor Jim Fahnhorst played for any NFL team other than the 49ers.