San Francisco 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh said Tuesday he has a zero-tolerance policy in regard to domestic violence incidents involving his players. Harbaugh’s pronouncement came just days after 49ers defensive end Ray McDonald was arrested on felony domestic violence charges.
“I’ll be very clear,” Harbaugh said on the KNBR Morning Show in San Francisco, according to CSN Bay Area. “You ask me how I feel about domestic violence. I can be very clear about that. If someone physically abuses a woman and/or physically or mentally abuses or hurts a child, then there’s no understanding. There’s no tolerance for that.”
Harbaugh said the 49ers would not allow a player convicted of domestic violence to play on the team. However, no decision would be made until a legal determination is reached, he added.
“There are going to be two principals at play here,” he said. “And one is, I’ll speak for myself, I’ll speak for the 49ers: We’ll not tolerate domestic violence. The second principle, we’re firm believers in is due process. And I ask for your understanding on those two principles."
McDonald, 30, was arrested early Sunday at his home during a birthday party held in his honor, the Sacramento Bee reported. Authorities took the NFL veteran into custody after his pregnant fiancée presented bruises to her arms and neck. He was released at 11:30 a.m. on Sunday after posting $25,000 bail.
“The 49ers organization is aware of the recent reports regarding Ray McDonald, and we take such matters seriously,” 49ers General Manager Trent Baalke said in a statement. “As we continue to gather the facts, we will reserve further comment.”
McDonald’s arrest marked the first domestic violence incident involving an NFL player since Commissioner Roger Goodell announced that the league had changed its disciplinary policy in regard to such cases. Under the new guidelines, any NFL employee – whether player or executive – found guilty of domestic violence would receive a six-game suspension for a first offense and an indefinite ban for a second offense.
The decision to increase the NFL’s domestic violence penalties was made after Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice received a two-game suspension in July after knocking his fiancée unconscious during a dispute. In a letter to the league’s owner, Goodell admitted that previous attempts to punish domestic violence “[fell] short.”