The two men who control the 49ers’ roster Tuesday left no middle ground when it came to defensive end Ray McDonald: If he is guilty of domestic abuse, there is no room for him on the team.
“I’ll be very clear,” coach Jim Harbaugh said on the “Murph and Mac” show on KNBR. “You’re asking me how I feel about domestic violence; I can be very clear on that: If someone physically abuses a woman and/or physically or mentally hurts a child, then there’s no understanding, no tolerance for that.”
A few hours later, general manager Trent Baalke had a similar response.
“This is certainly something that hits home for me,” Baalke said. “I’ve got two daughters myself. Domestic violence is unacceptable and certainly won’t be tolerated.”
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Still, both men said they would wait to pass judgment on McDonald, an eight-year veteran and a starter at defensive end, until more information is known.
McDonald practiced Tuesday, but Baalke said he didn’t know if McDonald would play in Sunday’s regular-season opener at Dallas.
“We’ll have more knowledge later (Tuesday) and certainly more knowledge the next day moving forward,” Baalke said. “Nothing’s been determined at this point.”
McDonald was arrested early Sunday at his home in San Jose after police arrived and found, according to a synopsis of the police report, “visible injuries” on the victim. McDonald was taken into custody and booked into Santa Clara County jail on suspicion of felony domestic abuse.
He was released later that day and told KTVU news, “The truth will come out, you know. I can’t say too much right now, but the truth will come out. Everybody knows what kind of person I am. I’m a good-hearted person.”
McDonald was not in the locker room during the 49ers’ open media session Tuesday.
Teammates said they supported McDonald, who is well-liked among the 49ers, but they declined to talk about what happened at his house Sunday morning. McDonald, who turned 30 Tuesday, was having a birthday party. Tight end Vernon Davis said about half the team attended.
“Unfortunately, I didn’t see anything; I didn’t hear anything,” Davis said. “So I don’t know what went on over there. Wish I could put my finger on it, but I don’t know. What I do know, Ray is a great guy. He’s awesome.”
“That’s not something we’re supposed to talk on, we won’t talk on,” linebacker Patrick Willis said. “He just knows that we have his back. We never condone anything of this magnitude. But it is what it is and there are two sides to every story. So we just hope that everything gets situated and we can get right back out on the field and everybody can be at peace.”
Baalke said he had conversations with McDonald on Monday and Tuesday and the 49ers are piecing together what happened at the party.
The arrest came just days after the NFL announced a more stringent policy regarding domestic abuse, one in which first-time offenders will receive a six-game suspension and second offenses will be given a lifetime ban.
The policy change was in reaction to the uproar over the two-game suspension Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice received after striking his then-fiancee in February. Surveillance cameras showed Rice dragging her out of a casino elevator, apparently unconscious, after the incident.
Rice plays for Harbaugh’s brother, John, who has been publicly supportive of Rice.
Baalke said the 49ers won’t wait for the league to become involved with McDonald’s case.
“We’ve been in contact with the league on several occasions since this incident took place,” he said. “And they know exactly the stance we’re taking and the things we’re trying to do to make the best possible decision we can. They’re guiding us, but they’re not telling us exactly how to handle this matter. And the matter will be handled by the organization.
“I can’t reiterate enough, domestic violence is not something that will be tolerated within the 49ers’ organization, period.”