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Jeff Chiu / The Associated Press

Fellow 49ers said they supported Ray McDonald but declined to talk about what occurred Sunday morning at his home, where he was having a birthday party.

Harbaugh: ‘This is America. You’re innocent until you’re proven guilty’

Published: Wednesday, Sep. 3, 2014 - 5:06 pm
Last Modified: Monday, Sep. 8, 2014 - 8:37 am

SANTA CLARA -- After strongly stating his stance on anyone guilty of domestic abuse on Tuesday, Jim Harbaugh spent Wednesday sounding just as forceful a message about due process of the law.

“We all live in America, we all understand that sometimes patience is required when it comes to due process,” Harbaugh said. “But I think we all owe that to everybody that’s involved. There’s a respect for due process in my opinion.”

That made it sound as if Ray McDonald, arrested on suspicion of domestic abuse Sunday, would play against the Cowboys in four days. The Santa Clara District Attorney's office currently is gathering information on whether to formally charge McDonald. His first court date is scheduled for Sept. 15, one day after the 49ers' Week 2 game against Chicago.

McDonald is practicing as usual with the 49ers this week.

When it was noted that due process is a legal term and doesn't necessarily apply to a company or a football team as far as suspending its employees, Harbaugh said, “This is America. You’re innocent until you’re proven guilty. I don’t know what more I can say about that. I have great respect for that principle.”

Harbaugh even attempted to paraphrase the Fifth Amendment of the Constitution, which protects against unfair treatment in the legal process. “Man or a woman is not to be punished before due process occurs,” he said.

Does that mean McDonald must be found guilty in a court of law before the 49ers act? “It’ll be based on information and the facts,” Harbaugh said.

Harbaugh also has an impetus to keep as much information from the Cowboys as possible. He would not show his hand about McDonald's status for the game or any other player's, including receiver Brandon Lloyd or Alex Boone, for whom the 49ers currently have a roster exemption.

“We’ve gone through the whole training camp process and we’ve been forthcoming on injuries, depth charts, who’s playing where ... that information flow is getting tightened up,” Harbaugh said. “There’s an injury report. And that’s about all we got for you.”

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Matt was born in Blacksburg, Va., and attended the University of Virginia. He graduated in 1995, went to Northwestern for a journalism degree a year later, and got his first job at a South Carolina daily in 1997. He joined The Bee as a Metro reporter in 1999 and started covering the 49ers in 2003. His favorite player of all time is Darrell Green.

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