NFL commissioner Roger Goodell last week announced increased penalties for domestic violence, but he is no hurry to reach a conclusion about 49ers defensive end Ray McDonald.
On the same day 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh spoke about gathering information and facts before making any decision on McDonald’s future, Goodell made similar comments to USA Today at a young flag football event in Renton, Washington, on Wednesday.
"I think the first thing we have to do is let the process play out, get the facts, and make sure you understand all the circumstances," Goodell said. "We don't (know the facts) right now and we're obviously following it very closely. But the policy will be applied uniformly across players, coaches, executives, commissioners. I think we made that very clear in the policy."
San Jose Police arrested McDonald early Sunday morning on felony domestic violence charges. Police said the alleged victim, McDonald’s fiancé, had visible injuries. She is reportedly 10 weeks pregnant.
McDonald was released later Sunday morning on $25,000 bail. The incident remains under investigation and has yet to be forwarded to the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office for criminal consideration, according to San Jose Police.
The arrest came just three days after Goodell sent a letter to all 32 NFL owners detailing increased punishment after he was roundly criticized for his handling of the Ray Rice situation. Goodell suspended Rice for just two Baltimore Ravens games of the regular season after an incident involving his then-fiance this offseason.
Under the NFL's new guidelines under the personal conduct policy, a first domestic violence offense is punishable by a six-game suspension.
A second offense would bring about a lifetime NFL ban. In order for the NFL to enforce punishment, Goodell told USA Today, a person would have to be "not only charged, but we would wait for the legal system to complete its process, particularly in any case on a first (offender). That's something that's very important to us."
On Tuesday, 49ers general manager Trent Baalke said the organization is consulting with the NFL over their handling of the McDonald situation. McDonald practiced Wednesay with his teammates. The 49ers have not announced a decision whether McDonald will suit up for the 49ers on Sunday against the Dallas Cowboys.
“We've been in contact with the league on several occasions since this incident took place, and they know exactly the stance we're taking and the things we're trying to do to make the best possible decision we can," Baalke said. "They're guiding us, but they're not telling us exactly how to handle this matter. And the matter will be handled by the organization."