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John Lynch talks difficulty of giving Reuben Foster structure, Tramaine Brock comparisons

Lynch talked broadly about Foster for essentially the first time since his Feb. 11 arrest.

San Francisco 49ers general manager John Lynch said at the NFL Combine that he underestimated the difficulty of surrounding linebacker Reuben Foster with a sound structure. This is in addition to his other comments, where he said that the team is “following the protocols that are already in place with both law enforcement and the NFL.”

Lynch, a rookie general manager, defended the team but admitted some fault in respect to keeping Foster, who was known as an off-the-field concern before he was drafted in the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft, in line.

“If you remember at this time last year, there was a lot of discussion about Reuben,” Lynch said. “One thing we knew was we were going to have put great structure around him. One lesson I learned, it’s probably a lot easier to do that in the college environment than in the NFL.”

Foster had his issues in college, but everything after that has gotten progressively worse. From the incident at the 2017 combine to his marijuana arrest in Alabama (which itself would just be a “C’mon, son...” incident if taken alone) to his recent arrest and accusation of both domestic abuse and possession of an illegal assault weapon.

“These guys have to be men,” Lynch said. “We take the approach that we are going to equip them with every resource we can.”

Lynch will speak to the national media at the combine in a press conference at 7:45 a.m. ET on Thursday. It’s safe to say he’ll be asked about Foster, just as he’s been asked about his quick release of Tramaine Brock following the cornerbacks own arrest for domestic violence just one day prior to his own arrest.

Brock is a player that Lynch inherited, while Foster was a first-round pick and a standout rookie. It’s obvious that football skill matters in these situations, as we saw with Greg Hardy and the Dallas Cowboys and as we saw with Josh Brown and the New York Giants, even if Lynch won’t admit it.

“I said then and I’ll say now, I think our approach is that each one of these situations is unique and different,” Lynch said. “Listen, I know there’s a lot of conjecture as to, ‘Well, of course, Brock wasn’t the player that Reuben is.’ I would counter and say that he was a starting cornerback for us. And we didn’t take that lightly.”

I don’t doubt that they took the situation seriously and I acknowledge that each situation is different. I am specifically not calling for Lynch to act irrationally and without all the information, as well as all of the legal aspects taken care of before doing so. The fact is that he has done that in the past, with Brock, and the “conjecture” is both earned and warranted.

Lynch said that he talked with Foster about what the 49ers’ expectations are for him, saying that the 49ers have a “high standard.” I like rooting for teams with high standards, and I hope the 49ers have them.

We need a lot more information, but a pattern of behavior here (from Foster) is really deflating, and I don’t think I need to say this again, but of course the potential of a woman being abused is more important than anything that concerns the 49ers organization.

Foster was arrested on suspicion of domestic violence, making threats and possession of an assault weapon on Feb. 11. The Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office has not made a decision on whether or not to charge Foster, and has until March 13 to decide. I doubt we hear anything more before such a decision is made, so for Lynch potentially giving the same answers he gave on Wednesday when he hosts his combine press conference.