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SANTA CLARA – The 49ers remain unaffected by public pressure to take action against defensive end Ray McDonald, coach Jim Harbaugh said on Monday.
McDonald remains under investigation after he was arrested Aug. 31 for felony domestic violence stemming from an incident at party at his home involving his pregnant fiancée. The 49ers have cited “due process” in allowing McDonald to continue to practice and play during the investigation.
California Lieutenant Governor and former San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsome and his wife, Jen Seibel Newsom, are among the latest to call for the 49ers to take action while San Jose Police continues its investigation:
“The City and County of San Francisco and the entire Bay Area has long stood staunchly on the forefront of domestic violence awareness and prevention. That’s why the 49ers’ continued insistence on playing Ray McDonald during his ongoing criminal investigation is a painful affront to every victim of domestic violence and sends a troubling message to our community and especially our children that ‘zero tolerance’ are empty words, not real actions. In light of the increased public awareness of this issue in the wake of the horrific Ray Rice assault and today’s decision by the Carolina Panthers to deactivate Greg Hardy, we strongly urge the 49er organization we grew up revering to do the right thing — right now — and bench Ray McDonald, pending the outcome of his felony domestic violence investigation by San Jose law enforcement.”
“You’ve seen there’s been a lot of public speculation and people weighing in with their opinion whether it’s a public figure or people through social media,” Harbaugh said. “Our response would be: We have two principles at play here. One is respect for due process. And we’re not going to flinch, based on public speculation.”
Harbaugh said it’s possible the San Jose Police investigation into the McDonald incident will wrap up this week.
“It could be,” Harbaugh said. “I know there’s an investigation that’s going on. It’s continuing today.”
The 49ers have maintained that any player who commits an act of domestic violence will no longer have a job with the 49ers. Because of the team's hardline stance, it seems to indicate the information the 49ers have gathered points favorably toward McDonald.
“I can’t comment on that,” Harbaugh said. “There’s the legal process that’s going on. As you’ve noticed, I have not inserted myself into it, trying to sway it one way or the other. I’ve said from the beginning, we’re waiting for information, waiting for facts. I can’t predict or insert myself into it.”
The Carolina Panthers on Sunday deactivated defensive end Greg Hardy, who was found guilty in July on two counts of domestic violence. When asked if the Panthers' decision forced the 49ers to reconsider their position with McDonald, Harbaugh said, "No, we didn't compare the two situations."