San Francisco 49ers

49ers’ Ray McDonald cleared, Aldon Smith to begin practicing

Ray McDonald will not be charged with domestic violence relating to an Aug. 31 incident at his house, local prosecutors said Monday
Ray McDonald will not be charged with domestic violence relating to an Aug. 31 incident at his house, local prosecutors said Monday The Bee

Two members of the the 49ers’ defense will be back in good standing when the team starts preparing for the New York Giants on Tuesday.

On the same day prosecutors announced they would not file domestic violence charges against defensive end Ray McDonald because of a lack of evidence, 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh said Monday outside linebacker Aldon Smith has served his suspension and would join teammates at practice on Tuesday. Smith had been permitted to work out at the team facility and attend meetings during his nine-game suspension, but he was on the league’s reserve/suspended list.

“Very much look forward to that,” Harbaugh said of Smith being able to practice and play Sunday. “There are consequences for our actions, good and bad. There’s accountability. He has served that. He has done that, and I look forward to moving forward with a fresh, clean slate.”

The NFL suspended Smith after he pleaded no contest to DUI and weapons possession charges in the offseason.

The 49ers are expected to ease Smith into the mix of outside linebackers like they did last year when he missed five game while in an alcohol rehabilitation facility. One scenario has Smith and impressive rookie Aaron Lynch, who played every snap of Sunday’s 27-24 overtime win against the Saints, in the role of nickel pass rushers.

It’s unknown how the 49ers will make room on the roster for Smith and perhaps for nose tackle Glenn Dorsey, who could be taken of the injured reserve list this week.

The team’s other nose tackle, Ian Williams, suffered a fractured leg Sunday and could go on injured reserve. The team also bumped an outside linebacker, Chase Thomas, to the active roster Saturday, and he could be moved back to the practice squad.

McDonald was arrested on suspicion of domestic violence on Aug. 31 after police were called to his San Jose home and found marks on his fiancee, who was 10 weeks pregnant.

A memo filed by the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s office said the fiancee, referred to only as Jane Doe, struck McDonald and that McDonald tried to remove her from the house. There were conflicting views on how much force McDonald used, and the fiancee declined being examined 48 hours after the incident. There also were no credible witnesses of the altercation, which occurred upstairs and out of view of those that attended the birthday party McDonald had thrown for himself.

McDonald, who has not missed a practice or a game since the incident, has declined interview requests over the past two and half months.

“I appreciate the seriousness of the situation and I understand and respect that law enforcement had a job to do, which is why I cooperated fully with their investigation from beginning to end,” McDonald said in a statement released by the 49ers. “I am relieved that the DA’s office has rightfully decided not to file charges. I want to thank everyone who was supportive during this difficult time.”

According to the district attorney’s memo, during the 911 call the fiancee told a dispatcher McDonald was pulling her out of the house.

“Was he hitting you?” the dispatcher asked.

“He’s trying to pull me out of the house,” she replied.

The memo also cited a May incident in which the fiancee allegedly brandished a handgun during a fight. After his arrest, McDonald changed his story and told police she fired the gun into the ground.

The district attorney’s office concluded it could not prove a crime occurred “because we have mutual fighting between two parties, each party blaming the other and there are no verifiable eyewitnesses, no one with significant injuries and no allegation of prior domestic violence by McDonald. In fact, the only documented prior incident between the two parties involved Jane Doe possibly firing a gun.”

McDonald’s arrest came during a party – there was a noise complaint from a neighbor, the district attorney’s memo said – and Smith’s illegal semi-automatic rifles were found after an out-of-control party in 2012 during which he was stabbed.

Harbaugh said he couldn’t ban parties, but he said he could “educate” his players.

“I think we do that as a team,” Harbaugh said. “I think we continue to look for ways to send the message of good conduct. And you strive for it 100 percent, good conduct. And we want to have that. We haven’t had that. We want to get there.”

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