The San Francisco 49ers have a severe shortage of talent, and I say “talent” loosely. The shortage shrunk even more when Tramaine Brock was arrested. The arrest put him into the black book of domestic violence that the league all the sudden is trying to make examples of. Under Trent Baalke, the 49ers had a more “investigative” approach to their off-field incidents: find out what happened after you’re booked, get the evidence, and make a decision — often giving players multiple chances
John Lynch faced his first big decision as 49ers general manager on Friday. I want to say it was difficult, but it probably wasn’t. The moment you heard the handcuffs unlatch from Brock’s wrists, you also heard Lynch etching out his signature on Brock’s pink slip. No investigation needed, don’t bother stating your case—domestic violence doesn’t need to be explained. He didn’t even give Brock the ‘hour to clean out the desk’ routine, he just tossed the guy out into the cold and locked the door without even look over his shoulder to see the reaction. If memory serves right, Baalke would always mention a ‘process’ of sorts for things like this. Lynch just displayed his process, or lack thereof: zero tolerance.
Obviously, every situation is different, and there’s definitely two sides to this story —there always is. But aside from the victim chasing after him with a deadly weapon, I’m going off on a limb and saying whatever bruises they suffered were not justified. To be fair, the facts need to come out before passing judgment from a legal perspective. But a person does not have a constitutional right to play football, and so, the 49ers new front office and coaching staff acted with haste.
This does more than just set an example and show what the culture of the 49ers is all about. 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan said players were going to be held accountable. Well, that certainly wasn’t talk, for better or worse. Some might say this was preemptive, and perhaps a knee-jerk reaction, but it sent a message to the locker room. That message is this: things are different, you don’t [site decorum] around in this place.
Still, it begs the question. Exactly why did Lynch release Brock that quickly? Was it:
A: The NFL is cracking down on domestic violence.
B: He wants to make an example of a player that this won’t be tolerated.
C: Keeping him on the roster as an investigation proceeds would be a bad look for a guy who’s trying to change the culture of a beaten-down franchise given past incidents (Aldon Smith, Ray McDonald, Bruce Miller, etc).
I’m going to go with D: all of the above.
He may be off the 49ers roster, but given the league’s sudden stance against domestic violence and how they are praying they can get one of these punishments right (and let’s not forget Brock’s lower, non-elite status), he can expect a meeting with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell for a suspension, shutting him down at least temporarily. If the evidence proves the case against him, I wish I could say the league would blackball him permanently like a certain quarterback, but peaceful protests and beating your girlfriend are two completely different acts, and there are plenty of teams that will decide they can use another cornerback.