Here is a link to my Sunday column about Ray McDonald and the Niners and due process, etc. etc. The full text runs below:
I find the 49ers confusing. I bet you do, too.
The latest confusion concerns Ray McDonald. You remember McDonald. He is an excellent defensive lineman, something the 49ers need, and now he has hooked up with the Chicago Bears. He has hooked up with the Bears because the 49ers no longer want him. They released him in December. Not because he can’t play well. He can play very well and he doesn’t get hurt and he plays a lot.
The 49ers released him because he does not live up to their moral standard which, if you believe them, is the most exalted moral standard in the NFL. Except for the times it isn’t.
Here’s a quick box score on McDonald’s moral transgressions. You probably already know this stuff.
Moral Transgression No. 1: Last summer, he got arrested for domestic violence. A huge hue and cry went out across the land — well, across the Bay Area. I was a huer and crier. Many columnists, including me, said the Niners should place McDonald on paid leave until his case was cleared up. Even Steve Young said that.
The Niners demurred. They trotted out a key phrase. Due process. Jim Harbaugh, Trent Baalke and Jed York said due process over and over. They hung onto due process like an exhausted swimmer holds onto a life raft.
Maybe that was a good thing because McDonald never was charged in Moral Transgression No. 1. It’s possible due process was his rightful due.
Then came . . .
Moral Transgression No. 2: In December, a woman told the cops McDonald “possibly sexually assaulted” her. If there ever was a case for due process this was it. The woman’s recollection was vague. Her “possibly” contained all kinds of loopholes.
What did the 49ers do? They dumped McDonald in a heartbeat. In the process they dumped due process, became advocates for no due process.
Due process? Never heard of it.
You couldn’t help noticing the Niners were out of contention in December. They didn’t need McDonald and he was making them look bad. Or they thought he was. All of which was troubling. Either an organization that wins with class believes in due process or it doesn’t believe in due process. You can’t believe in due process on Tuesday, then not believe in it on Wednesday.
This flip flop on McDonald and due process made the 49ers seem confused at best, like a bunch of phonies and hypocrites at worst.
Baalke said the Niners gave McDonald the heave-ho because of — and I quote — a “pattern of poor decision making.” That is surely a hazy standard of behavior, a poor standard for firing a guy. It is especially poor when you consider McDonald never got charged in the second incident either, although the case is ongoing. The league has not banned McDonald from playing and he is now with the Bears.
Oh, it’s more than just being with the Bears. In Chicago he gets to play for Vic Fangio, his former defensive coordinator with the Niners. Who the heck knows why the Niners parted ways with Fangio? He may be the best defensive coordinator in the business and he’s loyal. Losing Fangio sure shows a pattern of poor decision making by the 49ers. Don’t get me started. Fangio has no problem coaching McDonald. And he shouldn’t. Former Niners coach Ed Donatell, another highly respected coach, also is an assistant for Chicago. It’s like the Bears are 49ers Midwest.
A note on McDonald. I am not saying he’s a saint or even a good guy. Part of his defense in Moral Transgression No. 2 is this: He claims to have video evidence the sex lasted two days and was most definitely consensual.
Questions suggest themselves. Did the woman even know she was being filmed? Did she agree? If she knew, how did McDonald introduce the subject?
“I hope you don’t mind, dear, but I like to keep a video record of things I do like eating breakfast, playing racquetball and, oh, having sex.”
“Sure, Ray, that sounds normal to me.”
So, anyway these Ray McDonald sex videos apparently exist. They may save his bacon, as it were.
And that brings us back to the 49ers. What did they gain by releasing a player they had no need to release on legal grounds? They now have a big void on their defensive line. McDonald is a superior run stopper. Justin Smith, by contrast, is a pass rusher, a more glamorous position. Recently-acquired Darnell Dockett would be Smith’s replacement if Smith retires or gets hurt.
Every defense needs a McDonald. Now Chicago has him. Who is McDonald’s backup?
That would be Tony Jerod-Eddie. Nothing against the man. He may be above reproach in his personal life, may know nothing about videotaping, may never need due process. But he’s not McDonald when it comes to stuffing Marshawn Lynch. My friend, the great football writer Ira Miller, describes a Jerod-Eddie type like this: “He’s just a guy.”
So, let’s get this straight. The Niners got rid of McDonald, a player they desperately need, for reasons which escape me. I bet they escape you, too. They sure escape the Chicago Bears.
For more on the world of sports in general and the Bay Area in particular, go to the Cohn Zohn at cohn.blogs.pressdemocrat.com. You can reach Staff Columnist Lowell Cohn firstname.lastname@example.org.