San Francisco 49ers general manager John Lynch made the clearest statement to date on where the team stands with linebacker Reuben Foster. If the domestic violence charges against Foster are proven to be true, Lynch said, he will be cut.
Foster has been accused of dragging his girlfriend and punching her in the head, rupturing her eardrum. He was charged with felony domestic violence.
“I want to be very clear, abundantly clear, that if these charges are proven true, if Reuben did indeed hit this young lady, he won’t be a part of our organization going forward,” Lynch said. “That’s the standard we want on our team, that’s the standard we’re going to operate under.”
Lynch also preached patience and that the team will learn things as the legal process goes forward. Because Lynch’s comment will be something we presumably revisit down the road, here’s the video from Matt Maiocco of NBC Sports Bay Area for posterity:
— Matt Maiocco (@MaioccoNBCS) April 23, 2018
The 49ers have avoided saying anything meaningful about the situation. It’s clear they’re hesitant to cut Foster, a 2017 first-round pick who played very well when healthy last season. The patience Lynch talked about, and has talked about since Foster was arrested, wasn’t afforded to cornerback Tramaine Brock last year when he was arrested on a domestic violence charge. Brock was cut hours later. Brock was a replaceable player. Foster is not so easily replaceable.
If Foster is found guilty of the domestic violence charge, the 49ers can’t walk back Lynch’s statement. They’ll have to cut Foster or be criticized relentlessly. But the legal system isn’t always that cut and dried, and there could be some gray areas depending how the case plays out. There has been speculation, after Foster’s girlfriend retained an attorney, that she doesn’t plan to cooperate in the case. Then, if the case is thrown out as a result of the victim not cooperating, the 49ers might try to justify not cutting Foster because the charges weren’t “proven true.” We’ll see how the team handles the situation if there’s not a clear guilty verdict. The 49ers could have easily cut Foster right after the accusation — they did with Brock — but they seem to be hoping for a reason to avoid cutting their talented linebacker.
At least the 49ers have taken a bit of a stand with Foster. It took them months to do so, but at least they’ve finally said something of some consequence.
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