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Trotter: 49ers believe Reuben Foster can learn from alleged mistakes and likely suspension

Apr 4, 2018 at 6:37 PM--

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Under the NFL's domestic violence policy, players are subject to a suspension of at least six games without pay following the first incident and a lifetime ban from the league for a second infraction. That sets the baseline for the discipline likely to come from the league in regards to San Francisco 49ers linebacker Reuben Foster.

Foster has been arrested twice this offseason. The first incident took place in January for second-degree possession of marijuana in Alabama. A month later, Foster was booked into the Santa Clara County Jail on suspicion of domestic violence, threats, and possession of an assault weapon. It is that second incident that concerns the 49ers the most.

Jim Trotter of NFL Network fully expects the second-year linebacker to face a suspension during the 2018 season and discussed the situation with Lindsay Rhodes on NFL Total Access.

"What they're doing at this point is hoping for the best but preparing for the worst," Trotter said. "And what they're preparing for is that he will be out at least six games because of the domestic violence case he was involved with.

"Now look, he is a major player for them. That's why they went and got him in the first round last year. They believe that he has that impact, and guys rally around him, and that sort of thing. But also, there are some in the organization that also believe if he is out, it could be good for him from this standpoint: The lesson learned that you are going to be held accountable for your actions at this point.

"We know the 49ers have had some issues in the past. They've tried to change the locker room with culture and whatnot. This is something, obviously, that they did not want but they believe now that he could learn from this and they're expecting that he will be out at least six games, and it could longer. Remember, the personal conduct policy says if there are mitigating circumstances, it could be more than six games. That's always a possibility here."

49ers CEO Jed York recently discussed Foster's situation while stating that if the young star doesn't stay out of trouble, his career with San Francisco could be in jeopardy.

"I know Reuben is very cognizant of where his position is right now," York told The Athletic. "His time with the 49ers can potentially be over if he continues to do things outside the team that aren't what we want him to be a part of."

Foster was the second of two first-round picks (No. 31 overall) by the 49ers in last year's draft and started 10 games while registering 72 combined tackles and a pass defensed. He was named the Defensive Rookie of the Month for November and finished the season with the team's highest player grade (90.7) from Pro Football Focus.

Head coach Kyle Shanahan believes Foster has put the 49ers in a tough situation. While he stayed out of trouble during the season last year, Foster failed to steer clear of trouble once the season was over.

"Reuben was great for us when he was around, and things have happened since he's been gone," Shanahan said last month via NBC Sports Bay Area, "and those are things we have to address and things we need to make sure he learns how to do things the right way. I want to help Reuben out, just like I want to help any of our players out. But it's a two-way street, and they have to meet us there. And there comes a lot of responsibility with that."

Shanahan added that the 49ers entered free agency and will head into the draft with the assumption that Foster will (at least) miss a significant portion of the 2018 season.

General manager John Lynch is content with letting the legal process work itself out before the team potentially takes any action. The 49ers met with Foster the day after the incident in February.

"We've had some really frank discussions with Reuben," Lynch said two weeks ago. "Unfortunately, a lot of these things happen in the offseason when we aren't allowed to touch these guys. That's not an excuse. It's just a reality. During the season, Reuben was great. His biggest issue during the season was staying healthy, but when he was on the field, he's a difference maker.

"He's put himself in a couple of situations that you can't put yourself in. We're going to hold off judgment and let the legal process kind of work itself out. But Reuben's really working on improving himself such that he's equipped to make these decisions as to who he's surrounding himself with, what kind of situations he's putting himself in.

"We're going to let that play out but we believed in Reuben when we drafted him, and we really want to right now. But he's got to make some strides as well, and I think he's working hard to do that. We'll see where that all ends out."

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