The San Francisco 49ers find themselves in another legal mess following Ahmad Brooks being charged with misdemeanor sexual battery. Trent Baalke spoke to media this morning and said Brooks formally departed for California Thursday morning, and has been excused from team activities while he deals with the situation. When asked whether or not Brooks would play in the regular season if the situation remain unresolved, Baalke said, "We don't have enough information to make that decision."
There is a whole lot to unpack with yet another legal situation facing the 49ers. I initially thought the 49ers would probably release Brooks, now I am not so sure. The 49ers have made it clear they take things on a case-by-case basis. Ray McDonald was released after a second major incident, while Aldon Smith was released after five. Bruce Miller pled out to disturbing the peace following an arrest for suspicion of spousal battery, and returned to the team once the plea was determined.
As for Brooks? He has generally avoided police activity in recent years, but he does have a history of a mix of legal and general bone-headed behavior. Last fall, he went off on Jim Tomsula on the sidelines, resulting in a benching. Prior to that he smashed a beer bottle over Lamar Divens head in the summer of 2013. Prior to his time with the 49ers, he was accused of punching a woman in the face in 2008, and accepted mediation on the charges. Before that, he was kicked off the Virginia football team for an unspecified incident off the football field.
In light of the 49ers varied approaches to team conduct, my guess is the team will wait this out before making a decision. This is not quite Ray McDonald's short term pattern of bad decisions, but it's not like he's made some great decisions over the years.
Baalke did note this was a development, as opposed to a new matter:
"The one thing that we have to realize is this is not a new matter," Baalke said. "This is a new development within that matter. Our players are well aware of the consequence that go along with their actions and are supportive of it. But they also understand that every situation is different."
There are reports of a video recording of this whole incident. We don't know if the 49ers had access to the recording. We don't know what exactly the 49ers know. I am a bit skeptical they don't know what's on the tape given their connections to the Santa Clara police, but it's merely skepticism for now.
While I remain a 49ers fan, there are times it does feel a little dirty. On the one hand, I get that each case is different and not black and white. On the other hand, it does feel like a pattern has developed. Whether you want to blame Jim Harbaugh, Trent Baalke, and/or Jed York, the perception of the 49ers is rightfully not good. The team has made it clear transparency is not important, and so they leave themselves open to continued PR hits when it seems like inconsistency abounds. The team cannot complain about bad PR for these incidents if they are not going to provide greater transparency into the process.