Straight Out of the Rabbit’s Hole: The 49ers’ poker face.

Diego Del Barco
Sep 11, 2014 at 12:59 PM


The San Francisco 49ers better be holding a royal flush in their hands because all actions by the team seem to indicate they're all in with Ray McDonald.

It is impossible to discuss McDonald's situation without addressing the ongoing investigation in the Ray Rice domestic violence issue, even if Jed York recently stated in an interview with KNBR that "Ray McDonald is not Ray Rice." On that note let's define who Rice is: a 27-year old athlete currently out of job and indefinitely suspended by the NFL due to sucker punching his then fiancée (and now wife) Janay Rice in an elevator at the Revel Casino in Atlantic City, New Jersey on 2/15/14. In the infamous words of Brad Pitt in Moneyball, "... there's 50 feet of crap," and then there's Rice. The NFL as well as the Baltimore Ravens have either purposely or mistakenly mishandled this situation depending on how you want to look at things. What's clear is that the subsequent two-game suspension towards Rice for violation of the league's personal conduct policy was embarrassing to say the least (oh, and it came 5 months after the incident, by the way). The information that had been made publicly available showed that Rice had committed an assault on his fiancée inside the elevator and there was footage showing Rice dragging her out of said elevator completely unconscious. Concluding that Rice's assault in that elevator was violent and uncalled for was apparently difficult because the league/team did not give Rice the deserved punishment until a video of Rice's sucker punch surfaced earlier this week. The poor handling of this matter by the NFL/Ravens has the whole nation calling for heads to roll and there is now a former FBI director assigned to lead an independent investigation of how the Rice case was dealt with by the league.

That doesn't sound like something you would want your team to be involved with, right? Enter Ray McDonald and the 49ers. He was arrested 11 days ago on suspicion of felony domestic violence. Reports indicate the victim is McDonald's fiancée, who is nearly three-months pregnant. The local (San Jose) Police Department has yet to complete its investigation on the matter and as of this moment there is no confirmation as to whether McDonald will be charged. In the meantime the 49ers have decided to allow McDonald to practice with the team, play in the season opening game at Dallas, and barring any significant news against him it sure seems the Florida alumni will play in San Francisco's home opener this Sunday night. Jim Harbaugh, Trent Baalke, and York have all gone on record to state that they will let due process play out.

However, and as much as McDonald may not be Rice, the perceivable shady behavior in the handling of the Ray Rice incident does not give the NFL/49ers the benefit of the doubt in how McDonald has been dealt with (or not) so far. Multiple reports confirm the league and the team have significant resources to conduct an investigation that will allow them to gather up enough facts as to whether the player is likely to be guilty of the alleged crime. The fact that the 49ers continue to protect McDonald's right to be innocent until proven guilty suggests that the league/team's investigation up until this point is favorable to McDonald. If that's the case, the NFL/49ers better hope that their investigation is thorough and that nothing is being covered up because the non-stop coverage of the Rice incident clearly shows that if there are skeletons in the closet, then somebody will find them.

Whether they understood the consequences of their actions at the time or not, the team's handling of the McDonald investigation has put them in a spotlight that will either add them to or set them apart from the despicable situation that the NFL/Ravens are currently a part of. At this point anything other than a complete and truthful clean up of McDonald's name will be a failure and the team is too far into their support for McDonald to fold.
The opinions within this article are those of the writer and, while just as important, are not necessarily those of the site as a whole.


8 Comments

  • Lucky Phil
    (edited) stop beating your women and children! That's the best advice I can give an African American athlete... Now lets get back to some football! No one is going to end domestic violence, hopping on their soapbox during a pre-game football show. Sorry JB, It sounded strong though! (and no I'm not a racist just being honest and blunt about this issue)
    Sep 12, 2014 at 4:54 PM
    0
    Response: Had to edit your first word there unfortunately
  • Max
    Mr P says: "The mere fact that Ray McDonald was arrested should be enough "evidence" to suspend him with pay until his due process plays out. It sends the right message, protects everyone - including McDonald's rights, and is just the right thing to do." Very poor take by Mr P. Very arrogant, self-righteous, naive and authoritarian to suspend people without any investigation just because someone accuses you? Guilty until proven innocent?
    Sep 11, 2014 at 6:57 PM
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  • Shane
    Mr. P, I'm curious why do you feel that someone being arrested is evidence of a crime? I don't understand this point of view and I'm not being a tool, I'm legit curious. Have you ever seen the movie The Hurricane or read any of the many many many unfortunate stories like it? I have zero knowledge of you or your life but I would imagine if you were married, had a horrible fight with your wife, left the house without doing anything and then was arrested for DV and suspended from your job you might have a different view on this(assuming McD didn't do anything which is the point, neither of us know). The idea that McDonald shldnt be playing is ridiculous. What if he turns out to be innocent? then we sat him for what 3, 4, 5 games for nothing? games he cant get back! If he is proven guilty he will be cut immediately. what more can we ask for? That's fair. Im curious how anyone feels that suspending what is currently an innocent man is "the right thing to do" Do we remember some girl basically wanted to accuse Kap of rape! she was nuttier than squirrel...poop. We cant just start striping ppl of liberties and privileges every time someone makes an accusation. Lets see some REAL proof.
    Sep 11, 2014 at 4:42 PM
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  • Mr. P
    The mere fact that Ray McDonald was arrested should be enough "evidence" to suspend him with pay until his due process plays out. It sends the right message, protects everyone - including McDonald's rights, and is just the right thing to do. I'm wondering if the 49er executives are banking on the low 43% conviction rate for domestic violence (Stats here: http://www.nij.gov/publications/dv-dual-arrest-222679/ch2/Pages/findings.aspx ) P
    Sep 11, 2014 at 3:52 PM
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  • RishikeshA
    Hi Diego, the glaring embarrassment for the NFL is that no women represented the team or the NFL in bringing the matter to the media. According to reports there are no women on Goodell's staff. It seems the Rice situation is being mismanaged at every step. Now the NFL is bringing in an independent FBI probe. Who is paying? The NFL of course. Rooney and Mara will be overseeing the inquiry. The same families that were there at the founding of the League. McDonald better be cleared or things could get ugly from the top on down.
    Sep 11, 2014 at 3:22 PM
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  • DAN
    MAN I WISH I COULD GET THE TIME BACK THAT I SPENT READING YOUR ARTICLE. YOU SAID NOTHING THAT WASNT ALREADY KNOWN, AND GAVE NO NEW PERSPECTIVE OR POINT OF VIEW. VERY DISSAPPOINTING. AS FAR AS WHAT THE NINERS BETTER HOPE FOR.... WHATS IT MATTER?? ARE YOU GOING TO STOP WATCHING THIER GAMES? ARE YOU GOING TO STOP REQUESTING INTERVIEWS AND SUCH? IS ANYBODY??? WHY ON EARTH SHOULD THE 49ERS BASE ANYTHING ON THE RAVENS AND RAY RICE WHEN DEALING WITH THIER OWN RAY MCDONALD?? WHEN I TELL MY CHILDREN NO TO SOMETHING AND THEY REPLY WITH "JENNY'S DAD LETS THEM GO TO THE RIVER" AM I SUPPOSED TO REALLY CARE, AS IF IM GOING TO CHANGE HOW I RAISE MINE VERSUS HOW SOMEBODY ELSE RAISES THIERS? IT MAKES ME LAUGH HOW THE MEDIA ASSERTS THEMSELVES AS THE ONES TO MAINTAIN CLAIRVOYANCE IN THIS SITUATION. THE MEDIA IS A TOOL AND THAT IS ALL. ITS NOT YOUR JOB TO WORRY ABOUT WHAT IT WILL TAKE FOR THE NINERS TO SIT MCDONALD, IT IS YOUR JOB TO PRESENT THE FACTS AS THEY ARE KNOWN. BUT.... YOU THE MEDIA DONT KNOW THE FACTS, AND QUITE FRANKLY ARE CONTENT TO LEAVE IT THAT WAY WHILE EVERY OUTLET LAMBASTES THE 49ERS FOR WHAT THE MEDIA THINKS "SHOULD" TAKE PLACE.
    Sep 11, 2014 at 3:10 PM
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  • kevin
    My opinion on this . I was married to a crazy woman she was a very violent individual she was always try to hit me or use any against me. And i never hit her i always try holding her hands to avoid getting hit and to calm her down. Until one day she just went crazy enough that stabbed me with a knife close to puncture my lungs so were i'm going with this people should not talk about other people cause it's easy to say and judge other people . And every case is different . So don't criticise the niners decision cause we live in usa ...... not guilty until proven
    Sep 11, 2014 at 2:42 PM
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  • Jacob
    Yes, the way the league handled the Ray Rice situation has been, and continues to be an embarrassment. The spate of incidents involving players from the 49ers is also an embarrassment and needs to stop. The NFL's mishandling of the DV issue does not reflect upon the 49ers IMM, but the other aforementioned incidents involving 49ers players does. If it turns out that Ray McDonald is guilty of a crime, he will be summarily dismissed from the team and rightfully so. Why is it that every case of domestic abuse is automatically equated to a man beating up a woman? Which isn't to say I know McDonald didn't do such a heinous act, but that we don't yet know whether he did or didn't. It's possible he's a scumbag, or it's possible she was doing something wrong and he tried to stop/restrain her from doing whatever that was. I hope it is the latter. I agree with the way the 49ers have handled McDonald's situation, and until proven otherwise will give him the benefit of the doubt. If it turns out he is charged, I would expect them to sever ties with him immediately, and would feel let down by my misplaced faith in him. I would not blame the 49ers for waiting for such a conclusion.
    Sep 11, 2014 at 1:33 PM
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