UPDATE: Foster did not stand trial for domestic violence after a judge determined in May that there was no evidence. The weapons charge was eventually reduced to a misdemeanor.
By Robert Salonga and Cam Inman
The Mercury News (TNS)
San Francisco 49ers star linebacker Reuben Foster was arrested Sunday on suspicion of domestic violence and possessing an assault rifle at a Los Gatos, Calif., home, authorities said.
Arrest and jail records show that Foster was booked at the Santa Clara County jail Sunday on the felony counts and released on $75,000 bail that evening.
A call to the Los Gatos-Monte Sereno Police Department was not immediately returned. But law-enforcement sources told this news organization that officers were dispatched to a Los Gatos home Sunday morning for reports of a domestic disturbance.
The reported victim, a woman with whom Foster has been in a long-term relationship, described to officers an assault that followed an argument that erupted between the two, sources said.
In the course of the police response, officers located what appeared to be an assault rifle inside the home.
The team released a statement in the wake of the news.
“The San Francisco 49ers organization is aware of the report regarding Reuben Foster. We take matters of this nature seriously and are gathering all pertinent information,” the statement reads.
In early January, Foster was arrested and charged with second-degree marijuana possession in Tuscaloosa, home of his alma mater, the University of Alabama.
Foster’s offseason arrests surely will draw discipline from the NFL, including potential suspension. He was put in the league’s substance-abuse program after a failed drug test at last year’s combine, with a diluted urine sample.
The league will look into Foster’s latest arrest, NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said.
In the wake of Foster’s January arrest, general manager John Lynch expressed concern and an ultimatum of sorts.
“He’s got to stay — he knows it — he’s got to stay clean,” Lynch told Jennifer Chan of NinersNation.com at the Senior Bowl. “We all know how special a player he can be when he’s right. So he’s got to figure out how to stay healthy and stay out of trouble, but we believe he will do that.”
After Foster’s 2017 draft stock slid amid concerns about a shoulder issue and off-field character, Lynch and coach Kyle Shanahan traded up to select Foster at No. 31 overall. They were so convinced about his talent that they considered using the No. 3 pick on him before instead selecting defensive tackle Solomon Thomas.
“We probably spent more time with him than anybody in the draft because we felt like it was necessary,” Lynch added. “We grew comfortable and we felt really good about him. It hasn’t been without bumps, as we all know, but we still believe in him a great deal.”
Foster, limited to 10 games because of injuries, racked up 72 tackles and made the Pro Football Writers of America’s All-Rookie Team. An ankle injury in the season opener sidelined him five games, but he returned strong and won the NFL’s Defensive Rookie of the Month award for November. Multiple nerve-stingers in his neck and shoulders forced him out a few plays several games as the 49ers won their final five.
The weapons allegation against Foster evoked memories of the 49ers’ experience with highly talented but legally-troubled linebacker Aldon Smith, who was convicted of possessing three illegal assault rifles in the wake of gunfire that erupted at his home in the San Jose hills in 2012.
Domestic-violence arrests and prosecutions of one-time 49ers players have piled up in recent years, including cases involving Ray McDonald, Tramaine Brock, Ahmad Brooks, and Bruce Miller.
Aside from Foster’s run-ins with the law, Lynch and Shanahan haven’t had to deal with many off-field incidents since their arrival a year ago. However, they released cornerback Brock a day after his domestic-violence arrest in April; charges were dropped in August.
Since 2012, the 49ers have had 17 player arrests, the most in the NFL in that period, according to a USA Today database tracking league arrests.
Shanahan, in his opening statement as coach last February, indicated he wouldn’t have much tolerance for bad apples. “We’re going to hold people accountable. We’re going to do it the right way,” Shanahan said last Feb. 9. “Everybody who’s in this from the top to the bottom will be going in one direction. What does it take to win now and what does it take to consistently win over the long-haul.”