With Ray McDonald being investigated following accusations of sexual assault, the 49ers have elected to release the veteran defensive lineman, general manager Trent Baalke told reporters today (Twitter link via Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle). According to Baalke, McDonald – who was investigated earlier in the year for an alleged domestic violence incident – is being cut without due process this time because of a “pattern of poor decision-making” (Twitter link).
A search warrant for McDonald’s home was served on Tuesday, the same day that San Jose police received a call from a hospital to report a possible sexual assault victim, writes Robert Salonga of the San Jose Mercury News. The woman told police investigators that she had been assaulted on Monday, and a police spokeswoman confirmed that McDonald is the suspect in the investigation.
The Santa Clara district attorney’s office decided last month not to file charges against McDonald in a domestic violence case due to insufficient evidence, and the defensive lineman has yet to be charged in this instance either. However, the police investigation is ongoing, and the NFL figures to perform its own investigation into the incident, under the terms of the new personal conduct policy. If McDonald is charged, or if the league determines that he has violated the conduct policy, he could be placed on paid leave and/or suspended.
The 49ers allowed McDonald to continue to play during the earlier domestic violence incident, citing due process, and the 30-year-old played well — according to Pro Football Focus (subscription required), McDonald has been the league’s 11th-best 3-4 defensive end this season, grading well both against the run and as a pass-rusher. Despite the former third-round pick’s strong play on the field though, the team appears to have tired of his off-field run-ins, which drew negative attention to the franchise.
McDonald had been on the 49ers’ books for a cap number of about $6.476MM in 2015. The team will create a little cap room by cutting him, but will still carry a little over $4.6MM in dead money for next year. As for McDonald, if he clears waivers, he’ll be an unrestricted free agent, able to sign with any team. However, it’s hard to imagine a contending club trying to sign him for the playoffs while the sexual assault investigation is ongoing.
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