SANTA CLARA (AP) — San Francisco general manager John Lynch said Monday the team will be patient through linebacker Reuben Foster’s legal issues in a domestic violence case but stressed he won’t remain on the 49ers if the team determines he hit a woman.
Lynch spoke publicly for the first time since Foster was charged with felony domestic violence on April 12 after being accused by authorities of dragging his girlfriend and punching her in the head, leaving her with a ruptured eardrum.
“The gravity of these charges has not been lost on us,” Lynch said. “We take it extremely seriously. We do feel like patience is the right approach right now. We’re going to learn things through this legal process. I do want to be very clear, abundantly clear, that if these charges are proven true, if Reuben indeed hit this young lady, he won’t be a part of our organization going forward.”
The 49ers announced a few days later that Foster would not take part in the offseason program while he deals with the legal matter.
Lynch said he expects that to remain the case until something changes, meaning Foster will remain away from the team until his legal case is resolved.
Lynch said the team has been in contact with the league, which could place Foster on the commissioner’s exempt list while the legal process plays out, which would keep him away from the team and off the roster.
Lynch said Foster is in contact with members of his player development staff and working out on his own during this period where he is not allowed to be part of the team.
“We miss his spirit a lot,” linebacker Malcolm Smith said. “Just being around the guys. Obviously he’s going through some issues and legal stuff. We definitely miss his spirit in our group.”
Prosecutors said the 24-year-old Foster attacked his girlfriend in February at their Los Gatos home, leaving her bruised and with an injured eardrum.
The 28-year-old woman told responding officers that Foster dragged her by her hair, physically threw her out of the house, and punched her in the head eight to 10 times.
Foster was also charged with felony possession of an assault weapon after officers found a Sig Sauer 516 short-barreled rifle in his home while investigating his girlfriend’s domestic violence report.
If convicted on all charges, He faces up to 11 years in prison.
“We just feel like right now that we don’t have all the information,” Lynch said.
“That’s where we’re at. Everyone looks at that and say, ‘Wait, the DA has levied charges. How is that not enough information?’ I would tell you that each one of these cases is unique and in this case we don’t feel like we have enough information. We will wait and figure it out.”
The 49ers drafted Foster 31st overall last year after questions about his health and character caused him to drop from being a possible top 10 pick.
Foster delivered on the field, ranking second on the team with 72 tackles in 10 games as a rookie and looking like a key part of San Francisco’s defensive future.
Foster then was charged in January in Alabama with second-degree marijuana possession before the incident in February that led to the most recent charges.