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What’s next for Reuben Foster following his arrest is murky

The 49ers linebacker was arrested on a domestic violence charge Sunday. The team has a decision to make.

The San Francisco 49ers face a serious question with regard to linebacker Reuben Foster. The now second-year linebacker was arrested Sunday morning and charged with domestic violence, making criminal threats, and possession of an assault weapon. He faces significant jail time on the legal front, as well as a questionable future with the 49ers and in the NFL in general.

This marks the second domestic violence arrest since general manager John Lynch and head coach Kyle Shanahan joined the team a year ago. This followed a time under general manager Trent Baalke when the team dealt with multiple serious arrests and serious questions could be raised about their handling of them.

Considering Tramaine Brock‘s arrest last April, and what it says about the 49ers own decision-making process under Lynch and Shanahan. On Thursday, April 7th, Brock was arrested following a domestic violence incident that occurred at approximately 9:35 p.m. The 49ers announced Brock’s release the next day at 2:46 p.m.

The following Monday, the 49ers opened their offseason workout program, and Kyle Shanahan offered some thoughts on the decision.

“We heard about it on Friday. It was a tough situation because it’s a big deal and you don’t have all of the information. My first time going through it, I found out how hard it is to kind of get all the information. So, we spent most of the day trying to figure out all the information you can, as much as you can get, and you never do get all of it, but there was enough there that we felt it was the decision we had to make and move on from.”

A couple days later at the team’s local Pro Day, John Lynch talked about taking each of these kinds of events, “as a unique and different situation.”

Charges were eventually dropped against Brock, but we will likely never know for sure what happened that night. Yes, it is possible the situation ended up overblown, but it is not uncommon for a domestic violence victim to choose not to testify against their partner. Barring video coming out or Brock admitting more than he has to date, we’re never going to know what specifically went down that night.

Now, the 49ers face a similar situation with Foster. We again don’t know for certain what happened, and we don’t know what the 49ers know. The team does not report for their offseason workout program for two months. There are no team activities until then. The 49ers could decide they want to take more time to investigate this before making a decision.

The organization can do whatever it wants with their approach to this, but they also have to recognize the perception that will be conveyed the longer it takes to make a decision. We don’t know yet how much Foster’s talent will impact this timeline.

Brock was a starting cornerback, but not someone you build a defense around. Meanwhile, Foster is a potential franchise cornerstone player. When making this kind of decision following an arrest for domestic violence, talent level should play zero role in how much time the organization spends investigating a matter. And yet, we’d be naive to think talent level plays no impact in team investigations. It is a reality of professional sports.

Ten months ago, the 49ers released Tramaine Brock less than 24 hours after he was arrested on a domestic violence charge. Three days later, Kyle Shanahan said, “we spent most of the day trying to figure out all the information you can, as much as you can get, and you never do get all of it, but there was enough there that we felt it was the decision we had to make and move on from.”

Ten months later, we now wait to see how the 49ers elect to handle Reuben Foster’s arrest on a domestic violence charge.