SANTA CLARA – Trent Baalke was interviewed in the 49ers’ media room Tuesday afternoon. Here’s a transcript.
Q: What’s the process to determine if Ray McDonald will play Sunday or ever again for the 49ers?
BAALKE: Right now it’s a legal matter, and there is such a thing called due process and we intend on letting that play out.
Q: You let Aldon Smith play two days after a DUI. Is that how you’ll handle Ray McDonald?
BAALKE: I don’t think Aldon’s case has anything to do with this case. They are separate issue and they will be dealt with separately.
Q: Jim Harbaugh said someone who is guilty of domestic violence has no place on this team. Do you feel the same way?
BAALKE: This certainly is something that hits home for me. I’ve got two daughters myself. Domestic violence is unacceptable and certainly won’t be tolerated.
Q: Will he play on Sunday?
BAALKE: That remains to be seen. Once again, there is due process. We’re still in the fact-finding mode, trying to get as much information as we can. We’ll have more knowledge later today and certainly more knowledge the next day and moving forward. Nothing has been determined at this point.
Q: Will he practice today?
BAALKE: Yes, he will practice.
Q: Have you spoke to Ray and the 49ers who were at his party?
BAALKE: I have spoken to Ray McDonald.
Q: Have you spoken to the players who were at that party?
BAALKE: No, I have not.
Q: Has Ray given you the circumstances of the incident where you would feel comfortable putting him on the field this Sunday?
BAALKE: Once again, I’m not going to go into detail of what Ray and I discussed, but we had a lengthy conversation yesterday. We also had a lengthy conversation today. We will continue to have lengthy conversations. When you look at this for all players, there are three ways they’re held responsible: one is at the team level, one is at the league level and one is law, the legal system itself. In all three of those cases we look to due process. This is one of those cases.
Q: Do you have people on your staff who are interviewing witnesses? What’s the process of your investigation?
BAALKE: We’re gathering as much information from as many different sources as we can. Who those sources are, I’m not going to go into detail. We’re certainly gathering information. This matter is being treated seriously by this organization. Once again, I can’t reiterate enough – domestic violence is not something that we tolerate within the 49ers’ organization.
Q: Will you wait for the court process to make your decision?
BAALKE: I don’t know that we’ll wait for the court process. Once again, we’re in the mode of finding out as many facts as we can, talking to as many people as we can and trying to make the best decision we can for everybody involved in the organization, the player, the victim, everybody.
Q: If this is in question, why not say we’ll pay you for a week, we don’t know what happened but we don’t want you playing for us if we don’t know what happened?
BAALKE: I don’t know that we have enough information at this point to make that decision, to be honest with you. That’s part of the process, gathering as information as we can so we can make the best possible decision we can for everybody involved.
Q: Carlos Hyde was involved in an incident last year before the season where a woman accused him of assault. The coach suspended him indefinitely. The charges were later dropped and it was a three-week suspension. Why wouldn’t this organization do something like the Ohio State coach did?
BAALKE: I think once again, and I keep going back to due process, let’s make sure we have as much information as we can before we make any decision. I don’t know that particular case – I do know the case, obviously, but I don’t know the timeframe in which that was handled. Right now we’re basically 48 hours out from when this incident took place, so we’re going to continue to gather as much information as we can and make the best decision we can at the appropriate for the organization, the player and everybody else involved.
Q: Is this a distraction?
BAALKE: Any time something occurs off the field, it’s a distraction. Distractions are never good for a team, for an organization, for anybody. But at the same time, these guys are professional, we’re all professionals, we know the jobs that we have to do and we’re prepared to go and get those jobs done. That’s really the meat of it right now.
Q: Is the league telling you to get this taken care of fast or are they letting you work independently on this when you say due process?
BAALKE: We’ve been in contact with the league on several occasions since this incident took place. They know exactly the stance that we’re taking and the things that we’re trying to do to make the best possible decision we can. They’re guiding us but they’re not telling us exactly how to handle this matter. The matter will be handled by the organization.
Q: Does this team have a discipline issue, does it have a code of conduct issue?
BAALKE: I don’t know what that number is. Some people have a magic number – if you have one, if you have two, if you have eight, if you have seven. I’ve always believed one is too many. We’re continuing to work to try to figure out what we can do better, better as an organization, better as individuals, whether you’re a player or a coach or you’re on the administrative side. We’re always searching for better and we certainly have some work to do, but we’re working hard to try to give our players the best guidance we can. We’ll continue to do that.
Q: Is it an embarrassment that this team leads the league in arrests the past couple of years?
BAALKE: I think you can answer that question yourself. Obviously this isn’t something any of us our happy about but it’s the situation we’re in. Any time you face adversity, it’s how you deal with it and we’re going to do the best we can to bring a resolution to this and to do the best we can, all of us – players, coaches, everyone else – being the best members of this community we can be. That’s our goal, always has been, always will be.