And the Season of Hell gets more hellish for Jed York, now that the man he bent over backward for, Ray McDonald, just snapped his spine.
McDonald was fired by the 49ers after a claim of a sexual assault in his home, months after he had been accused but never charged in an incident involving his fiancé.
In a rare sighting, general manager Trent Baalke came out to announce the dismissal, describing it as the result of “a pattern of poor decision-making,” though it could essentially be described as the straw that broke the owner’s resolve.
The incident in question, which the San Jose Police Department described as “an accusation of sexual assault” at McDonald’s home, was handled in the exact opposite way from the previous allegation, an indication that the 49ers’ “stand on principle” is very flexible indeed, the same nerve-wracking case-by-case distinction that undid Commissioner Roger Goodell in his disastrous handling of the Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson cases.
[MAIOCCO: 49ers 'terminate, release' Ray McDonald]
More to the point, though, it is an example that the 49ers have had enough of not only McDonald but of the season in its totality, one which ended Sunday with a 17-7 loss at Seattle. Between the stadium’s shortcomings, the ongoing jousts with head coach Jim Harbaugh, York’s ill-advised postgame tweet after the first Seattle loss, the McDonald issues, the suspension of linebacker Aldon Smith and the on-field struggles that turned a Super Bowl contender into a hard-to-watch also-ran, York has seemingly determined that his patience has been exhausted.
This could signal the beginning of a full-on restructuring/rebuilding of not only the coaching staff, which would have been expected, but on the organization’s general rules of operation. York held firm throughout the August 31 incident, refusing to discipline McDonald until he was actually charged with a crime by authorities, which never happened, and to have to repudiate that decision so soon after the public grief he took over his original stance is only going to further raise his ire.
As a financial matter, McDonald was signed for next year, with a cap number of $6,475,985. There will be $4,609,971 of dead money, and $1,806,014 in cap savings, per Spotrac. But the 49ers have chosen to put financial considerations as well as football ability on hold as the crisis surrounding this season has been ratcheted upward yet again.
McDonald had no immediate statement, and Harbaugh was not expected to speak today. But the time for speeches and explanations are now over. Jed York now finds himself with an organization that has embarrassed itself on too many occasions, and the already eventful off-season just turned to Defcon 2, two games before their off-season has actually begun.