Here is a link to my column about Ray McDonald. The full text runs below:

The Santa Clara County District Attorney isn’t pressing domestic violence charges against 49ers player Ray McDonald.

Somehow, this is not surprising.

The 49ers, who kept saying they wanted due process to play out, issued the following statement:

“The issue of domestic violence is important to us, as it is throughout society. We have taken this allegation seriously, just as we have taken the principles of due process seriously. We have said from the beginning that we will consider the information available, allow the facts to lead to our decisions and respect the judicial process. Based on the information available to us and the District Attorney’s decision not to file charges, there will be no change in Ray’s status with the team.”

Notice no one signed this pro forma press release. It’s puzzling when no one signs a big-deal team statement. Did Jed York turn shy? Did Trent Baalke forget how to write his name? Really, someone needs to take responsibility for a team press release.

I know, the Niners speak with one voice and all that. Please, just sign the release. Let us know who is the responsible party. And please don’t dump all this on coach Jim Harbaugh who, yet again, had to answer hard, serious legal questions at his Monday news conference, questions about oversight of his players’ conduct.

These are not coach questions. Jed should have been there to answer the questions. Or Jed could have sent a lawyer. He has lawyers.

I don’t take the district attorney’s choice not to indict McDonald as proof McDonald is innocent. The district attorney never said a crime did not occur. The district attorney said he cannot prove a crime occurred. Those are entirely different statements.

We know for a fact Santa Clara County’s investigation was compromised from the get-go. It was compromised because the first San Jose cop on the scene had a classic conflict of interest. He’s a police officer but he also moonlighted for a private firm providing security to players. He has a relationship with 49ers players including McDonald. None of this is to say the police officer did anything untoward. His mere presence was a complicating factor.

When McDonald fought with his pregnant fiancée, McDonald didn’t phone 911. He phoned the cop. You wonder if the policeman was more loyal to McDonald than the law. The friendly cop was already at McDonald’s house when other police officers arrived.

It was a very bad move when McDonald phoned the friendly cop. It was a predictable move. It gummed up the whole investigation and it made San Jose reconsider its policy about letting police officers moonlight for big-cash clients like the Niners.

That’s called a big mess.

Another big mess involved the fiancée. She called 911 immediately after the incident and that started the whole mess with McDonald. After that, she refused to cooperate with authorities. She wouldn’t allow them to take photos of her injuries. This is strange behavior. I wonder if someone explained to her that getting McDonald in trouble could affect her future. I don’t know. I’m just wondering.

Here is the background just to catch you up on the case. The fiancée got sore at McDonald and confronted him at his birthday party. She hit him. She hit him first. McDonald tried to restrain her. That’s the story we’re getting.

The rest of the story goes like this. The two of them “scuffled.” Scuffled is the word prosecutors used. “McDonald then forcibly attempted to remove her from the home.” That last sentence also is according to prosecutors. And it means McDonald tried to throw her out of the house as he grabbed her by the neck. In the process of throwing her out, he left marks on her neck.

I’m thinking the fiancée weighs 130 pounds. McDonald weighs 290 according the 49ers media guide. He outweighs her by a cool 160 give or take. And this giant of a man, this professional athlete had to defend himself and leave marks on his fiancée. Really? This is a guy who routinely gets whacked in games by angry men weighing more than 300 pounds, and he had to fight off a woman. Wow.

I haven’t spoken to McDonald about the incident. I don’t think any reporters have. Maybe someday he’ll tell us what he was thinking at the time.

Harbaugh has preached he does not want a player on his team who would touch a woman. It’s a good rule. I endorse the rule. I’ve been told never to touch a woman in anger. We didn’t know at the time Harbaugh expressed the rule he included an asterisk:

* “My players cannot touch a woman unless she touches him first.”

McDonald may have saved his job by a mere asterisk.

So, what lesson have we learned from the McDonald Incident?

It’s fine to manhandle a woman as long as she hits you first. If you’re a 49er. If you work in Santa Clara County.

For more on the world of sports in general and the Bay Area in particular, go to the Cohn Zohn at You can reach Staff Columnist Lowell Cohn at


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