The 49ers got it right the second time.
They separated themselves from Reuben Foster, at least for now. Foster will not participate in any team activities while he fights his three felony charges – the 49ers announced this Sunday. I applaud them for making this move and correcting their initial mistake.
Of course, they had to get kicked in the butt to do this.
But they did it.
And they had to get kicked in the butt to sign their statement.
But they signed it.
A lot of people, including me, need a kick in the pants to do the right thing.
The 49ers did not do the right thing the first time. Their initial statement was shameful — and no one signed it. Not Jed York. Not John Lynch. Not Kyle Shanahan.
Here is the anonymous statement the 49ers released the day Foster got charged with felony domestic violence, felony attempt to dissuade a victim from reporting a crime and felony possession of an illegal assault rifle:
“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.”
Basically, they said, “We’re doing nothing unless Foster goes to jail; leave us alone.”
I understand why the 49ers responded that way. Clearly, they don’t want to get rid of Foster. He’s one of their best players. Without him, their defense could stink next season. It stunk without him last season.
Also, they believed in Foster, even though he failed a drug test and got sent home from the combine for yelling at a student nurse.
“We were exhaustive in our getting to know the kid,” Lynch said the night the 49ers drafted Foster last April. “Kyle and I both spent a lot of time on the phone with him, Facetiming. And then, we sent Keena Turner and Pastor Earl down to Tuscaloosa to meet with Reuben for two days and they had a tremendous visit. We kept in contact with him. Something we love about Reuben is that he’s a really genuine young man. He’s got a smile that lights up a room.”
Yikes. That embarrassing quote will follow Lynch the rest of his career. Especially the parts about Pastor Earl and Foster’s smile.
Cutting Foster now would be an admission from Lynch that he got duped by a kid, and that’s tough. Especially after vouching for the kid publicly and calling him genuine. I get it. Lynch made a rookie mistake, and he was entitled to it — he was a rookie. Now, it’s time to do grownup fixing.
And he did, with statement No. 2, which the 49ers released three days after the first one, and attributed to Lynch, York and Shanahan — the most important people in the organization. According to the second statement, Foster won’t be with the team “as he is tending to his legal matters.”
This is better than doing nothing. This is something.
The collective bargaining agreement won’t allow the 49ers to formally suspend Foster for a domestic violence incident — only the league can do that. But, the 49ers can “informally” suspend him. They can send him away from the facility, and that’s exactly what they did, indicating that for the time being, he’s not welcome.