Reuben Foster's repeated arrests left 49ers with no choice but to cut him

Reuben Foster's repeated arrests left 49ers with no choice but to cut him

TAMPA, Fla. -- The 49ers gave Reuben Foster every chance. And he kept letting them down.

The organization that waited for due process to run its course with Foster’s domestic violence case in the offseason did not wait for the legal outcome this time.

On Sunday morning, the 49ers said they were cutting ties with Foster, just hours after he was taken into custody on another domestic violence charge at the team's hotel on the eve of the game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

The 49ers might have believed what would happen during the offseason -- after coach Kyle Shanahan and general manager John Lynch declared they would not employ any player who hits a woman.

They seemed to have a good indication that Foster would be cleared. And their patience in letting the process run its course appeared to be the wise move.

And what they believe now, their actions showed Sunday, was they also know how this will turn out.

They might not know what will happen from a legal standpoint with Foster. But the 49ers have a good idea about Foster’s errors in judgment and his actions. It is a pattern that has repeated itself, and there is no reason to believe he has learned his lesson.

After Foster was cleared of two felony counts of domestic violence earlier this year, he reported back to the 49ers, acting and speaking like a changed man. He said he feared that he no longer would be able to play football. That thought scared him, he said. Foster said it made him appreciate football even more.

But Foster did not take the necessary steps of a man who prioritized football as No. 1.

Anyone in the Santa Clara courtroom during the preliminary hearing in May could tell Foster and his on-again-off-again girlfriend, Elissa Ennis, were not good for each other. It clearly was a combustible relationship.

Immediately following the incident in February in Los Gatos, Ennis told investigators that Foster hit her eight to 10 times in the head during a dispute in February in Los Gatos.

During the preliminary hearing, she recanted. She said she lied because she wanted to destroy Foster's career after he told her was breaking up with her. She even admitted on the witness stand of making false allegations of domestic violence against a previous boyfriend in 2011 after he broke up with her.

Only two people know what happened between Foster and Ennis on Saturday at the team hotel. But what the 49ers saw from Foster isn't in dispute.

Foster again showed poor judgment in meeting with Ennis on a business trip. That decision was the last Foster would make as a 49er.

The 49ers placed a lot of trust in Foster when other teams clearly were not as convinced before the 2017 NFL draft.

Lynch has said the 49ers rated Foster as the No. 3 prospect on their draft board. But Foster’s stock plummeted around the league because of concerns about his character and his shoulder.

The 49ers traded back into the end of the first round to select Foster with the 31st overall pick. They took a gamble. They made an investment in Foster, the player and the person.

But, finally, the 49ers realized this was one relationship that simply wasn't going to work out for the long term.

49ers' Richard Sherman blasts new NFL jersey swap policy for 2020 season

49ers' Richard Sherman blasts new NFL jersey swap policy for 2020 season

The NFL continued to do what it does best Thursday: Cast a meaningless mirage that the league actually cares about the players' safety. 

There's hypocrisy, and then there's this. NFL Media's Tom Pelissero reported Thursday morning that NFL players will be forbidden from interacting with each other after games from fewer than six feet, and jersey swaps will not be allowed. Richard Sherman blasted the NFL for "thinking in a nutshell," and couldn't help but get a laugh out of the situation. 

He's exactly right. How is the 49ers' star cornerback supposed to be tackling players and putting his body on the line for four quarters, and then the league all of the sudden cares about his health? That's not how this works. 

[49ERS INSIDER PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

ESPN's Mina Kimes had the perfect comparison for the worthless policy if you need a good laugh right now. Who am I kidding, we all need that and plenty more to cheer us up right now. 

The NFL has tried its best to act like everything is business as usual this offseason, despite the coronavirus running more rampant than Raheem Mostert in the NFC Championship Game. Free agency and the draft still were blown into giant events with hours of coverage. The same goes for schedules being released, as if everything will be smooth sailing. 

[RELATED: Whitner believes Washington needs NFL team name change]

Training camp is right around the corner, and there's no doubt the NFL wants to do everything in their power to ensure there aren't any delays. This league cares more about reminding players that drug testing resumes when they show up to camp than the actual health risks of its players, with an invisible evil lurking through the air and into our bodies. 

Sherman and any other player has every right to call out the league right now. Until the NFL puts words into action in protecting players, silence isn't the answer.

How Jerick McKinnon impacts 49ers' negotiations with Raheem Mostert

How Jerick McKinnon impacts 49ers' negotiations with Raheem Mostert

49ers running back Raheem Mostert wants a raise or to be traded. The problem for him is, he doesn't really have any leverage. Regardless of what he deserves, that's just the reality of the situation.

49ers coach Kyle Shanahan favors a running back-by-committee approach. He will be able to employ that, regardless of whether or not Mostert wants to be a part of it. The 49ers have ample depth at the position, even after trading Matt Breida earlier in the offseason.

Tevin Coleman isn't going anywhere. Cutting him would result in a $2 million dead cap hit, and San Francisco can't afford to waste cap space at the moment.

Jeff Wilson scored five touchdowns on 30 total touches last season. He seemed to make a play whenever given an opportunity, and the coaching staff has plenty of faith in him.

The 49ers also signed undrafted free agents JaMycal Hasty and Salvon Ahmed, who originally might have been ticketed for the practice squad, but there's a reason why San Francisco pursued them. Shanahan has a long track record of creating productive rushers out of thin air, and Mostert's performance last season only backs that up.

But there's one major wild card in San Francisco's backfield: Jerick McKinnon.

[49ERS INSIDER PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

Having signed a four-year, $30 million contract with the 49ers on the opening day of free agency in 2018, McKinnon was hand-picked by Shanahan to transform San Francisco's offense. Though never a bell cow, he offered the speed and matchup versatility that Shanahan covets. McKinnon rushed for 570 yards and hauled in 51 receptions for another 421 yards in his final season before joining the 49ers, and in Shanahan's system, the possibilities were endless.

And then, all dreams were dashed.

McKinnon tore his ACL one week before the start of the 2018 season, and then sat out the entirety of the 2019 campaign after requiring additional surgery. After not stepping foot on the field in a single game over his first two seasons with the franchise, McKinnon agreed to a pay reduction for the 2020 season that will see him make $910,000 in base salary, a sign of his commitment to the team. He was scheduled to make $6.8 million in 2020 prior to the restructuring.

Given his injury history, the 49ers would be wise to be cautious with their dependence on him. That said, he has had nearly a full year to recover from the most recent surgery, and last month his trainer said McKinnon is "in the best shape of his life."

He had been working with Rischad "Footwork King" Whitfield, and on Wednesday, McKinnon posted more workout videos to his Instagram Story.

The 49ers are optimistic they'll finally be able to unleash McKinnon this coming season, with Mostert recently going so far as to predict that McKinnon will "surprise people." If he's healthy, there's no doubt Shanahan will be itching to involve him in the offense, creating yet another potential matchup nightmare for the opposing defense. Plenty can happen between now and then, but San Francisco has to be feeling good about the progress "Jet" has put on tape.

[RELATED: How Mostert's 49ers trade demand shows price of success]

If the 49ers go into the season feeling like they can count on McKinnon, Mostert inevitably will get fewer touches. There are only so many to go around, especially with receivers Deebo Samuel and Jalen Hurd liable to take a few of their own. Mostert rightfully feels like he deserves a significant raise, but that's under the assumption he is going to be the lead back in Shanahan's system.

That might still be the case, regardless of McKinnon's status. But the 49ers haven't forgotten about McKinnon, and until they do, the odds are against Mostert getting what he wants.