Grant Cohn: Reuben Foster case biggest test for 49ers GM John Lynch

John Lynch, what are you going to do?

This is your first real test as a general manager. You had it easy until now.

All you did was smile, explain Kyle Shanahan’s vision for the team and say, “Thank you,” when the Patriots gifted you Jimmy Garoppolo in a trade. Now, you have to make a serious decision: to cut Reuben Foster, or not to cut him.

John, you need to cut him. Today. Or at the very latest, after the draft when he’s old news and the organization won’t take a big media hit. You figure it out. Either way, Foster shouldn’t be on the team when your players report to OTAs on May 21.

As you know, on Thursday, the Santa Clara District Attorney’s office charged Foster with three felonies: Domestic violence with an allegation that he inflicted great bodily injury, forcefully attempting to prevent a victim from reporting a crime and possession of a Sig Sauer 516 assault rifle and its large capacity magazine of bullets, both of which are illegal in California.

According to the DA, Foster allegedly dragged his girlfriend by the hair, flung her out of his house, punched her in the face eight to 10 times and ruptured her eardrum

John, do something.

You haven’t done anything as of this writing. Actually, that’s not accurate. You released a statement saying you’re not going to do anything right now. Or, someone in the organization released the statement. No one took credit for it. Not you. Not Jed York. How gutless.

Here is the statement: “The 49ers organization is aware of today’s disturbing charges regarding Reuben Foster. We will continue to follow this serious matter. Reuben is aware that his place in our organization is under great scrutiny and will depend on what is learned through the legal process.”

John, your place in the organization is under great scrutiny. By everyone. With that statement, you’re hedging your bets. You seem to be saying if Foster gets convicted and sentenced to 11 years in prison - the maximum he faces for these three felonies - then, sure, you’ll cut him. Otherwise, you won’t. You’ll let the judicial system decide for you. You’ll be a passive bystander like the rest of us.

John, in other situations, do you let other people decide for you? Hard to imagine.

It’s obvious you want to keep Foster despite the disgusting allegations against him. And it’s obvious you refuse to admit your mistake of drafting him in the first place. You’re giving him every benefit of the doubt, just because he’s your guy and he’s good.

The 49ers used to be about winning with class. Now, they’re winning with crass, and you’re the crass one. How disappointing.

You didn’t give Tramaine Brock the benefit of the doubt last year when he allegedly hit his girlfriend. You didn’t stall for time with a mealy-mouthed press release. Didn’t say Brock’s “place in the organization is under great scrutiny and will depend on what is learned through the legal process.”

No, you cut him as soon as he made bail, because he wasn’t that good. Certainly not as good as Foster, your first-round pick last year.

Here’s what happened with Brock, just so we remember. On April 6, he allegedly punched and tried to strangle his girlfriend while she was holding their one-year-old child. Police arrested Brock that night and discovered “minor visible injuries.” She did not receive medical attention.

The next morning, April 7, you released Brock, and he hadn’t even been charged. The DA charged him on June 6 with felony domestic violence and misdemeanor child endangerment, then dropped the charges on August 9 because Brock’s girlfriend wouldn’t cooperate with the investigation.

You acted lightning-fast with Brock, were happy to come across real tough on domestic violence in his case. Happy to set yourself apart from your predecessor, Trent Baalke, who repeatedly excused serial domestic abuser Ray McDonald. Cutting Brock made you look good at the time.

Now, you look like a hypocrite who stands for nothing except self-interest.

John, are you hoping Foster’s girlfriend won’t cooperate with authorities and you’ll be off the hook? Weak. Foster’s girlfriend went to the hospital, where it was determined she suffered a ruptured ear drum. What’s taking you so long?

Oh, and another thing.

Jed York, where are you? Are you in hiding?

You own the team. If Lynch can’t pull the trigger, help him. Order Lynch to get rid of Foster.

If Foster plays another game for the 49ers, you’re a disgrace, Lynch is a disgrace, your whole organization is a disgrace. Disgraceful.

Grant Cohn covers the 49ers for The Press Democrat and in Santa Rosa. You can reach him at

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