They have not yetplayed one snap of meaningful footballand have only been conducting practice for one day. But the new 49ers brain trustalready is doing at least one thing better than their predecessors.
Domestic violence by one of their players is not something they'll let hang over them, until the worst-case scenario forces them to act. John Lynch and Kyle Shanahan decidedTramaine Brock was not going to be their Ray McDonald.
Lynch and Shanahan are new. They're not loaded with experience in the job (certainly not Lynch, as it's been well-documented). But if that’s not a clear, clean break from the recent past, nothing is.
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McDonald's domestic violence history could not have been handled worse by the then-men in charge — owner Jed York, general manager Trent Baalke andcoach Jim Harbaugh. They’re all lucky that, wherever they are, they don’t still have to answer for how they waited until McDonald was accused of a second violent act against a woman in the 2014 season before they cut him.
The 49ersspent that season stretching open every loophole for McDonaldto stay on the roster, and concocting every excuse imaginable for keeping him … right up until they fell out of playoff contention.
They also released fullback/tight end Bruce Miller on the eve of last season — after, again, a second violent incident during his 49ers tenure in a short period of time. The latter involved an elderly man, the former his ex-fiancee.It was under the same GM, but different coaches, plural.
Not happening with us, the new brain trust said last week.
Brock, their starter at cornerback the last two seasons (and a member of the Super Bowl team in 2012), was arrested Thursday night. The 49ers announced they were releasing him Friday afternoon.
On Monday, the first day of offseason workouts, Shanahan explained why they released Brockand how they would approach such cases — especially with draft prospects, primarily Joe Mixon, with violence against women in their past. It won't be a blanket situation, as the Ravens have done with all such prospects, but a case-by-case basis.
"I would never say — you're dealing with people’s lives, so I’d never want to use a situation as sending a message,"Shanahan said. "It’s just us trying to do the right thing, whatever that is. I think each situation’s different and you’ve got to look into every situation, gather all the information that you can. When you do, you try as hard as you can to make the right decision and I think that’s what I felt we did."
Since Brock had only been charged, and not tried or convicted or even entered a plea, the 49ers run the risk of judging him prematurely.
They’ve seen the consequences of waiting too long, though.
And even though they say they didn't do it to send a message, they did. As much as roster-purging has, and does, make sense for a 2-14 team, Brock wasn't an automatic target to go — after all, he was still there under new management, while plenty of others were not.
When trouble — that kind of trouble, at least — arrived, though, Lynch and Shanahan said goodbye.
Unfortunately, chances are they’ll get tested again. But they passed the first test. Time for that to be some other team’s problem, not that of the 49ers. Not on their watch.