Trent Baalke: “We’re not going to rubber stamp this decision going forward in saying that every time a situation like this occurs, this is exactly how we’re going to act.”

This is the transcript of Trent Baalke’s Wednesday press conference, courtesy of the 49ers’ p.r. department.

Opening comments:

“Well, this is unexpected. Welcome, everybody. I just want to inform everybody that after the recent allegations concerning [DT] Ray McDonald, we as an organization have notified him and his agent that he will be terminated, released immediately, effective immediately. While this organization has a strong belief in due process, and has demonstrated that over time, Ray’s demonstrated a pattern of poor decision-making that has led to multiple distractions for this organization and this football team that really can no longer be tolerated. And that’s the reason for the decision that we made today. With that being said, I’ll open it up to any questions.”

 

Last time there was an investigation, you, everybody in the organization, talked about due process. Why not due process this time?

“Well, like I just said, [CSNBayArea.com reporter] Matt [Maiocco], we certainly believe in due process and we’ve demonstrated that over time. But when it becomes a pattern of poor decision-making, which it has in this case, it becomes a time when it leaves you with no other decision to be made but the one we made today.”

 

Who makes the decision? Is it you, is it CEO Jed York? Who makes this final call?

“Well, once again, we make decisions collectively here. Ownership was involved, the head football coach was involved and myself. We met briefly. Jed was out of the office, so we met with Jed over the phone. Met with [head coach Jim Harbaugh] coach in my office and is the decision that we came up with.”

 

Was there any sort of investigation by you guys to look into the matter to see if it has merit, the allegations?

“Well, this isn’t about this one incident. This is about a pattern once again, [Sacramento Bee writer] Matt [Barrows]. If this was one incident, we would be standing up here talking about due process like we have multiple times in multiple other situations. But this is just a pattern of decision-making that Ray had demonstrated over the period of time that, once again, it’s no longer going to be tolerated.”

 

After the incident in August, was he put on notice that any further incidents in which a police investigation takes place that this would be the consequence?

“Well, I won’t go into the exact details of the conversation that Ray and I had. But Ray and I had multiple conversations since the latest allegations and put together some criteria that we felt he needed to do in order to stay in good standing. And with these latest allegations, that was just one more situation that we just weren’t willing to deal with anymore.”

 

To be clear, when was Ray notified and when did you meet with him to tell him he had been terminated?

“I did not meet with Ray personally. I visited with Ray over the phone, as I did with his agent on record and shared with them. And that was probably, [CSNBayArea.com reporter] Mindi [Bach], around 11:30 a.m. in that neighborhood today.”

 

When did you learn about this latest incident?

“Matt, I don’t know exactly, but it was sometime around 10:45 a.m., I believe, 11 o’clock.”

 

This morning?

“This morning.”

 

Talk about the shield behind you and what it means to you and your organization?

“I have to look at which one’s behind us. There’s two shields that we represent. We represent the National Football League and we represent the San Francisco 49ers. We talk to our players often about respect, accountability, character, what that means. We’re a big part of this community, and we expect a lot from our players. We have high expectations. And, for the most part, they live up to those expectations. In certain instances, they don’t. And when they don’t, you try to deal with it and help them the best you can. Sometimes, we have been judged to maybe give them too much leeway. I think that’s a little bit harsh, but at the same time I understand that because I understand what the logo means, the shield means, both at the NFL level and the San Francisco 49ers. This is a situation that we can all learn from.”

 

In the wake of all the stuff that’s gone on with this team and the league, is this team, are you guys, in the process of coming up with standards, a philosophy, a set of what you’ll do in certain situations?

“I think every situation’s different. I really do. Different circumstances, different characters involved. We’re not going to rubber stamp this decision going forward in saying that every time a situation like this occurs, this is exactly how we’re going to act. But we will be on record as saying that the expectations here are no different than they’ve been in the past. We expect a lot from our players. Hold them accountable for their actions. When it becomes a pattern of poor decision making, this can and will be the result.”

 

You said a “pattern”? Are we talking about more than the allegation in August and this current incident? Were there more things involved that you know or are privy to?

“I’m not going to go into Ray’s entire status here and all the things that we’ve discussed. I can say that we’ve had multiple discussions with Ray over time. There’s been things that have been discussed with him and a plan that was put in place and this is just a situation that has gone against that plan.”

 

You don’t want to get into all of them, but there was a report two weeks ago that he and WR Brandon Lloyd broke up some argument at a bar late at night on a Friday night before the Raiders game. Was that another one that factor into it?

“Well, we were aware of that incident. Certainly took a look at that. As you know, that was more them stepping in and defending in that situation. But all of it adds up, and I’ll leave it at that.”

 

Have you had conversations with the league office and what did they, what kind of role did they play in your organization’s decision?

“Have had no conversations with the league office concerning this. We did notify the league office of the allegations like we are expected to. So, they were notified sometime around 11:00 a.m., 11:15 a.m. Had no contact with them, no communication with them other than that. And let me clarify that, Matt. This is a team decision. This is not a league decision.”

 

I understand you had to confer with others. This just wasn’t your call. But once you became aware of this latest allegation and the nature of the allegation, in your mind, was Ray McDonald gone?

“What I can tell you is I was extremely disappointed, as all of us were, to hear about the latest allegations. And once again, this isn’t about guilt or innocence in this specific situation, because we still do believe in due process. This is going back to my original statement that this is about a pattern of poor decision making, not this matter in and of itself.”

 

What was Ray’s reaction to this decision, please?

“Like you would expect – extremely disappointed. We drafted Ray in the third round. He’s been an awfully good football player and, for the most part, has been a tremendous asset to this organization and this community. He has made some poor decisions. He’s aware of that. This is a case of being accountable for those poor decisions.”

 

When were the players made aware of Ray’s release?

“Coach has notified the players, to my understanding. They would’ve been notified within the last 15 minutes.”

 

This team only has about a week-and-half left together. Are you going to address these guys before they go off in the offseason in terms of what they need to do to make sure they stay out of trouble?

“We address the players often. We will definitely address it again, as we do multiple times during the offseason and certainly when we depart from the last team meeting.”

This article has 21 Comments

  1. Trent had to add the disclaimer that they would not rubber stamp this decision so that it would always apply. If making poor decisions became cause for release he and a lot of other people in the organization would also be at risk to lose their jobs. lol

  2. What did we expect? the 9ers are nothin but street thugs, that includes crybaby Harbawl, and to think they got beat by boy scouts “Seahawks” twice this year. What does this tell us? It doesn’t take a street thug to win a football game!!!

    Does Harbawl hear laughter….. HeHeHe

  3. Between the New NFL Player Conduct Policy & McD’s 2nd Allegation I’m trying to understand why it’s so confusing for the Media to grasp the 49ers latest move?

    On the 1st Go Around the Media was all over the 49ers Brass for not suspending McD…

    Now that the 49ers did what I call a “No Brainer” decision the Media is questioning this move?

    It’s clear that what ever the 49ers do the Media will balk at everything.

    Frickin’ Unbelievable!

    1. “It’s clear that what ever the 49ers do the Media will balk at everything.”

      The 49ers have set themselves to be questioned by not being transparent.

        1. I’m talking about the previous transgressions that they’ve dealt with. Even in this case they are noncommital.

          I agree with most of the takes that I have read from the media so far, that due process is nothing more than their crutch to keep players on the field when they still have something to play for.

          Saying that this is due to a pattern is a load of horse poop. Aldon Smith has already matched McDonald in terms of off the field issues. They wouldn’t do the same thing with him because, A) He’s young and B) Cutting him would result in a large negative cap hit, compared to the positive hit they get from cutting McDonald.

          This organization has become a joke in short order, and they’ve brought it on themselves.

            1. Sure.

              1) Don’t play Aldon Smith every defensive snap 3 days after crashing his truck while driving drunk.

              2) When the 1st McDonald thing broke come out and say, “We know of the allegations against Ray. We have done our due diligence. One of the members of our security personnel who is also a police officer responded and we feel very strongly that there will be a positive outcome for Ray. As a result he will continue to play unless something proves otherwise.”

              Instead they hid behind due process. Now that the season is basically over with it is time to be politically correct, and heck, it actually helps them out $$ wise to send him packing.

              If this process plays out and there are no charges filed against McDonald it will simply be more egg on their faces.

              1. You misunderstood me. Please indulge me again by mapping out the plan going forward. BTW, I agree with your above talking points….

              2. Razor,

                Your guess is as good as mine. Jed his steering this organization about as well as Eward Smith steered his last ship.

              3. 1) Don’t play Aldon Smith every defensive snap 3 days after crashing his truck while driving drunk.

                I agree. No way he should have been on the field.

                2) When the 1st McDonald thing broke come out and say, “We know of the allegations against Ray. We have done our due diligence. One of the members of our security personnel who is also a police officer responded and we feel very strongly that there will be a positive outcome for Ray. As a result he will continue to play unless something proves otherwise.”

                I read pretty much the exact same thing in Mark Purdy’s article today. They did say they were doing their own investigation. Expecting them to give details like the SJ police officer is a pipe dream. Nobody would share details at that point and certainly not at a media conference. Harbaugh also said more than once that he felt good about what he knew about McDonald’s situation. That’s about as good as you’re going to get when something like this happens.

                Instead they hid behind due process. Now that the season is basically over with it is time to be politically correct, and heck, it actually helps them out $$ wise to send him packing.

                There could be some truth to the fact it helps them in the public eye to a degree, but they did the right thing with due process initially and McDonald got himself into one too many bad situations. As I said in the previous post, the cap savings are minimal. There’s also the fact he is not signed to huge money and they likely would have been counting on him even more if JS retired. Nothing adds up to this being the reason imo.

                If this process plays out and there are no charges filed against McDonald it will simply be more egg on their faces.

                I doubt it. They’ve let it be known why they released him and clearly said it’s not based on whether he’s guilty.

              4. Razor,
                GM = someone other than Baalke
                HC = David Shaw (I prefer someone with HC experience)
                OC = Pep Hamilton
                DC = Vic Fangio (I doubt he’ll stay if passed over for the HC job)
                Alternative for DC = Rex Ryan

          1. Jack
            Remember last summer? Ray called an off duty officer friendly to the org who arrived on scene before the SJPD. My speculation has always been that the guy was assigned to several players due to patterns of previous sketchy behavior. The team’s knowledge of previous encounters with the mother of his child,and her behavior history, allowed them to believe the last incident wasn’t totally his fault, so they allowed him that last strike. But I think they spelled it out for him and his agent that there couldn’t be anything more; nothing. There was, so they pulled the trigger irrespective of guilt or innocence.
            Your point about Aldon getting a longer leash is probably correct, but in regards to Ray, I’ll believe Baalke that this was the case.
            Just guessing from trying to read between the lines, but aren’t we all?

          2. While you may be right Jack, I think there is just as much evidence to support what they’ve done.

            Aldon has been a problem, but his issues go back a couple of years and he’s kept his nose clean since the DUI that sent him to rehab. He was given due process, but so was McDonald and others like Brooks and Culliver. They’ve been pretty consistent with that line no matter how you want to perceive it.

            The difference this time is pretty clear to me. They supported McDonald and let the process play out when he was arrested, didn’t react to the public pressure to sit him and they were vindicated when no charges were laid. At that point they likely told McDonald it was the last time they were going to give him the benefit of the doubt and if he got himself into any more situations, that was it.

            There is obviously some connection between a players ability and how far his rope is, but in this case they really didn’t save much by cutting McDonald and he’s been arguably their best Dlineman the past few weeks so I see this as an agreement with the team that he violated and thus was released quickly.

            What I completely disagree with is those that think the team was wrong not to sit or suspend him now that this accusation has popped up. There was a lot of people that convicted him in the court of public opinion and stood on the moral soapbox saying he should be punished. This does nothing to change the fact the team did the right thing in letting the process play out.

            1. “Aldon has been a problem, but his issues go back a couple of years and he’s kept his nose clean since the DUI that sent him to rehab.”

              LAX

              “in this case they really didn’t save much by cutting McDonald”

              But they still saved $$. From that perspective there was nothing but a positive for the team.

              “What I completely disagree with is those that think the team was wrong not to sit or suspend him now that this accusation has popped up.”

              I thought the team did the right thing by letting it play out. I also think that is what they should have done this time around.

              1. LAX turned out to be nothing.

                They didn’t save enough for it to be about money. They also would have saved more if they had kept him on the roster and released him later.

                I gave my reasoning for why they didn’t let it play out this time. You give people the benefit of the doubt until they give you reason not to and McDonald reached that point with the latest accusation.

              2. Interesting last sentence, Jack, though obviously it fits with everything else you have said about this incident.

                I see where you are coming from, and if it ends up that McDonald didn’t do anything it will look like a rash decision. But as I said previously, I think this was more about sending a message to the players. We’ll support you, but to a point – continually making decisions that can lead to trouble will not be tolerated.

                The only thing that concerns me about the whole thing is how quickly they made the decision. I would like to think they had time to gather some facts about the situation, but given the speed with which they made the decision it seems unlikely they could have gotten much.

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