ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) — Linebacker Ahmad Brooks has been banished from the San Francisco 49ers after being charged with misdemeanor sexual battery.
The team sent him home Thursday morning from Colorado, where they are holding joint practices with the Broncos before playing a preseason game against Denver on Saturday night.
General manager Trent Baalke said he wasn’t sure how long the expulsion will last or whether it would be permanent.
“Where it goes from here, I don’t have that answer right now,” Baalke told reporters before practice. “I don’t have enough information regarding the situation right now. All I can speak of is today and today Ahmad is away from this football team.”
Brooks was expected to start at the outside linebacker spot vacated by Aldon Smith’s release three weeks ago. Third-year pro Corey Lemonier started there Thursday.
Asked for the team’s reaction to Brooks’ indictment and departure, linebacker NaVorro Bowman said: “Nothing. We stay professional. We’ve had several incidents and the team’s controlled that and we as players we have to stay focused on what’s at hand and that’s practicing and getting ready for the season.”
Bowman added, however, that it was difficult to continue losing key players as the 49ers have done this year.
“It’s frustrating because when you’re building chemistry to be ready for this group of guys to fight through adversity, you have to evaluate the loss,” he said.
“That’s a big loss for us. Corey, Aaron (Lynch) and Eli (Harold), they’re good. They’re young. I was young. It’s up to them what they want to do, but the opportunity is there for them.”
The charge against Brooks stems from a December incident at former teammate Ray McDonald’s house. McDonald was indicted in the case on one count of rape of an intoxicated person.
McDonald is scheduled to be arraigned Sept. 25. He faces a maximum of eight years in prison. Brooks faces a maximum of six months in jail. His arraignment hadn’t been scheduled.
Brooks also could face discipline from the NFL for violating the league’s personal conduct policy.
The 49ers learned of the accusations against Brooks in a civil lawsuit filed in May.
“This is not a new matter,” Baalke said. “This is a new development within that matter.”
In a civil lawsuit filed in May against both men, a woman accused Brooks of groping her while she was unconscious at McDonald’s home.
In December, the Niners parted ways with McDonald, who had been a key member of one of the NFL’s fiercest front seven units, citing a pattern of behavior and off-field issues.
In the offseason, Mike Iupati, Frank Gore, Chris Culliver and Perrish Cox left in free agency. Chris Borland, Anthony Davis, Patrick Willis and Justin Smith retired and Aldon Smith was jettisoned this month after his arrest on suspicion of driving under the influence, hit-and-run and vandalism.
Because he hadn’t been arrested or charged with a crime until Wednesday, Brooks was allowed to continue practicing with the team through the offseason and training camp, and he played in both of their preseason games.
“With the new development, we just felt that it was the best course of action at this time for both him and the organization,” Baalke said.
Brooks has been enrolled in an internal player-engagement program since the civil lawsuit was filed in May. Baalke said the team has invested heavily in financial and staff recourses to improve player development.