49ers’ Jim Harbaugh spells out ‘no tolerance’ domestic violence policy after arrest of Ray McDonald


(David J. Phillip / AP)

San Francisco 49ers Coach Jim Harbaugh reiterated Tuesday what players had said about his policy toward players accused of domestic violence: It’s a zero-tolerance approach.

“You ask me how I feel about domestic violence,” Harbaugh said in an interview on KNBR Radio. “I can be very clear about that. If someone physically abuses a woman and/or physically or mentally abuses or hurts a child, then there’s no understanding. There’s no tolerance for that.”

The question arose after the arrest early Sunday morning of defensive end Ray McDonald on charges of felony domestic violence. McDonald is the first player to fall under the NFL’s strict new rules, implemented by Commissioner Roger Goodell last week in the wake of the furor he faced over the Ray Rice suspension.

Harbaugh was asked whether he would refuse to allow a player guilty of domestic violence on the team and he answered “Yes, we would not. We can be very clear.”

The key for Harbaugh, as it may well be for Goodell, is whether a player has gone through the court system. Harbaugh was clear about that; for now, McDonald, free on $25,000 bail, can practice with the team as it prepares for the season opener Sunday against the Dallas Cowboys.

“There are going to be two principles at play here,” Harbaugh said “And one is, I’ll speak for myself, I’ll speak for the 49ers: We’ll not tolerate domestic violence. The second principle, we’re firm believers in is due process. And I ask for your understanding on those two principles.”

McDonald, according to multiple reports, was arrested after police were summoned to a birthday party at his home and observed bruises on is pregnant fiancee.

“This is a legal matter, and I’m not here to tell you what happened because I don’t know,” Harbaugh said. “And I think we all owe, to everyone involved, the ability for due process to take place. All the questions you could ask me, I understand why you’re asking, but this is a process that has to conducted, has to be concluded, and then we’ll be in a better place in time to have this discussion and/or make judgments.”

After spending most of her career in traditional print sports journalism, Cindy began blogging and tweeting, first as NFL/Redskins editor, and, since August 2010, at The Early Lead. She also is the social media editor for Sports.
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