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