The San Francisco 49ers said Sunday they plan to release linebacker Reuben Foster after he was arrested at the team hotel in Tampa, Florida, on a domestic violence charge.
An arrest report from the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s office said Foster was booked into jail at 11:11 p.m. Saturday and released Sunday on $2,000 bail. Foster was arrested by Tampa police at 9:10 p.m. at the Grand Hyatt hotel where the team was staying before playing the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
“He was really taking some very positive steps and maturing in a really nice fashion,” general manager John Lynch told reporters before the game.
“Unfortunately in life there’s consequences for your actions. When you show bad judgment, particularly after something has been communicated very clearly what the expectations are, there are consequences.”
Foster will be placed on waivers officially on Monday. The other 31 teams will have an opportunity to claim him, although the NFL could place him on the commissioner’s exempt list if he is signed. Spokesman Brian McCarthy said the league is reviewing the matter.
The 24-year-old Foster was charged with one count of first-degree misdemeanour domestic violence. Tampa Police spokeswoman Janelle McGregor said a woman told police that Foster slapped her phone out of her hand, pushed her in the chest area and slapped her with an open hand on the left side of her face. McGregor said officers observed a 1-inch scratch on the accuser’s left collarbone.
McGregor said officers learned that Foster had lived with the woman in the past and had been involved in an on-and-off relationship with her over the past three years. Police later confirmed the woman was Elissa Ennis, who had accused Foster of hitting her in February but later recanted the allegations.
Lynch said the incident didn’t happen on the two secure floors of the hotel reserved for the team, saying players have the opportunity to rent rooms in other parts of the hotel for friends and family members.
Lynch and coach Kyle Shanahan said in April following that arrest on domestic violence charges that were eventually dropped after the recantation that the team had a zero-tolerance policy.
Lynch said he had not made a judgment on whether Foster hit Ennis but felt the decision to cut ties with the 2017 first-round pick was necessary.
“That doesn’t mean we don’t love him,” Lynch said. “We all do. We care for him. We feel it’s in the best interest of our organization to move on at this point. That’s a very tough decision. I want to be clear that this is organizational decision. Kyle and I talked last night. We brought it to ownership and we were all in lock step with the decision. It was not easy on anybody.”
Foster has had multiple run-ins with the law since being drafted by the 49ers 31st overall in 2017 out of Alabama. He was charged in January in Alabama with second-degree marijuana possession. That charge was eventually dismissed after he completed a first-time offender diversion course.
Foster then faced more serious charges for an incident in California in February. He was initially charged in April with felonies for domestic violence, making criminal threats and weapons possession after being accused of beating up Ennis.
A judge ruled there was no probable cause on the first two charges after Ennis recanted the allegations and the judge found no other evidence to support the charges. The weapons charge was reduced to a misdemeanour and Foster pleaded no contest to that in June. He was sentenced to two years of probation, 232 hours of community service and $235 in fines.
Foster was suspended the first two games of this season for violating the NFL’s conduct and substance-abuse policies.
He has struggled on the field this season as well and has dealt with shoulder and hamstring injuries. He had missed the past two games with a hamstring injury and was listed as questionable for Sunday.
Foster had 29 tackles in six games this season with no sacks, forced fumbles, fumble recoveries or interceptions. He also missed 10 tackles in six games, according to SportRadar, and has the second-highest rate of missed tackles among any linebacker with at least 200 snaps on defence.
“One of our tenets is protect the team and he didn’t protect the team,” Lynch said. “Nobody is bigger than the team. As talented a player as he was and as many positive steps he has making, we felt like this was the best decision to make.”