San Francisco 49ers linebacker Reuben Foster’s offseason arrests drew scorn from many fans and analysts alike, yet the Niners exuded patience. And they were right in doing so, justified with his off-field charges mostly dropped.
After his arrest last January in Alabama on charges of second-degree marijuana possession, I was a bit frustrated. Not angered or upset. Just frustrated.
But then a second arrest a month later — one on more serious charges. Those, of course, stemmed from an alleged domestic violence incident with his ex-girlfriend, one involving an illegal weapon and an attempt to prevent a victim from filing a police report.
That angered me. And I’m sure it angered a lot of you as well.
It prompted me to write a knee-jerk piece on why the 49ers needed to move on from Foster. While I did mention the action should happen if the alleged incidents were true, the sentiment was there.
I wasn’t alone in my sentiments.
In case you hadn’t heard, Foster’s case of domestic violence and obstructing a police report has been dismissed. His ex-girlfriend not only recanted her initial statements but later admitted it was all part of a revenge scheme.
The Santa Clara County District Attorney’s office offered disagreement with the ruling, of course. Yet those words surely ring hollow now.
They were wrong too.
49ers Were Right in Staying the Course with Reuben Foster
All the while, the Niners didn’t pull the same knee-jerk reaction many of us wanted to. It would have been easy, especially considering the number of player arrests the team has had dating back to 2012.
That would have appealed to the masses, silenced the critics, of which there are many.
Yet general manager John Lynch spoke little of the topic. At most, Lynch admitted Foster would be gone if Foster “did in fact hit this young lady.” But that was about it. And it was easy to criticize Lynch for not taking a harsher stand.
But the 49ers knew more about the situation than any of us did. They met with Foster privately after the arrest, got his side of the story. And while there’s little available to the public about a 49ers’ incident-related investigation, one has to assume they knew more about the incident on that front as well.
This all meant, of course, San Francisco would receive criticism. And the team handled it remarkably well.
Turns out they were right in doing so.
What It All Means Now
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Foster has since rejoined his teammates for offseason activities. The domestic violence and preventing a police report charges have been dropped, while the felony weapons charge has been dropped to a misdemeanor.
Meanwhile, as the Sacramento Bee’s Matt Barrows reported, Foster’s marijuana possession charge has also been dropped following the linebacker’s participation in a diversion course.
The misdemeanor gun charge could still stand, and legal outcomes remain pending. The 49ers, meanwhile, are continuing to monitor this and see where it goes.
Still, Foster could face a serious suspension from the NFL, which despite a number of fans’ misunderstandings, isn’t required to follow the same legal standards and punishments that could have arose had the case gone to trial. Foster’s marijuana possession charge could still carry weight here even if it was dropped, legally. And the weapons charge could be just as serious.
Nevertheless, the league will have far less ground to proceed with a Foster suspension than before.
If the NFL was hoping to set an example here, well, they would have been wrong too.
A lot of us were.