Jim Harbaugh says he has “answered as much as needs to be answered on the subject” of Ray McDonald

SANTA CLARA — Jim Harbaugh was interviewed in the 49ers’ auditorium Wednesday afternoon. Here’s a transcript, courtesy of the 49ers’ P.R. staff.

Has a decision been made about whether DT Ray McDonald will play on Sunday?



For you, what goes into the decision for you? What would be the factors that would make you decide whether or not he can play?

“Facts, information.”


And are you actively going out and investigating? Are you listening? How is that happening with your involvement?

“I wouldn’t concentrate on who or what ‘who’ is doing or who’s making the decision. It’s what’s going to make the decision. That’s information and fact.”


Is he preparing as if he’s playing?

“He is practicing.”


Is there, based on your stated views, very strong views on domestic violence, is there any hesitancy on your part to have him in the building and preparing to play in the game?

“Well, there’s two very strong principles at play. Number one is, we will not tolerate domestic violence and the second principle is the respect for due process.”


Due process can take a while. So, just based on your conversations with Ray and what the 49ers have learned in their investigation and what you’ve learned, are you comfortable if he played Sunday?

“It’s something we all know, we all live in America, we all understand that sometimes that patience is required when it comes to due process. But I think we all owe that. We all owe that to everybody that’s involved, is the respect for due process, in my opinion.”


Due process is a legal term. A lot of people, including probably all of us, if we’d been arrested we’d be suspended. Awaiting the legal outcome, you don’t think it would be prudent to maybe sit him until you have all the facts?

“As we have said, if you want to say it in a different way, I mean, this is America, you’re innocent until you’re proven guilty. I don’t know what more I can say about that and I have great respect for that principle.”


So, in your mind he must be guilty for him to be punished by the 49ers?

“It’ll be based on information and facts.”

In your meetings with Ray over the past few days, assuming you’ve had them, what kind of sense do you get about his mindset and the story that he told you?

“We could talk about that. We could talk about what those conversations have been. We can talk about what our relationship has been. I’ve known him for three years, et cetera. How relevant is that? The decision that you’re asking about will be based on information and fact.”

I think it’s very relevant because, looking him eye-to-eye, you’d have an opportunity to really get a sense of where he’s coming from.

“As I’ve said, I’ve known him for three years. I’ve had many conversations. Anything I could say would be positive. But [Comcast SportsNet reporter] Matt [Maiocco], what I’m saying is, we owe to everyone involved a respect for due process.”

Are you waiting for the district attorney to either file charges or not?

“We’re waiting for information and fact.”

If he had told you that he had done this, safe to say, he would not be playing?

“This a legal matter. You know my position, and that is to everyone involved, is to allow due process to take place.”

Have you told players in the past, ‘If you put your hand on a woman, you’re not going to be a 49er anymore.’ Have you told them that?

“You don’t have to rely on any source. What I’ve said to my team, I’m on record very clearly, [San Jose Mercury News columnist] Tim [Kawakami], with how I feel about the subject of domestic violence.”

What was his demeanor at practice yesterday and did it impact the way that the players approached practice?

“There’s probably a lot of questions that we could answer, lot that we could ask. I feel like I’ve answered as much as I think it needs to be answered on the subject. It’s a legal matter, remember that, please. Remember that this is a legal matter.”

As you move forward, and, you know, this is ugly, slightly embarrassing in Week 1, when you’d like to be talking all about football here. How do you move these guys forward when you’re a couple of days away from going to Dallas?

“You use that word. I take it personal with our football team and take on a great responsibility. And will continue to emphasis the things that will, what I think is good for our team. And will continue to do that and continue to search for better ways to do that. But I feel that’s my responsibility to do.”

Your team has led the league in arrests in the past three years. Not a very nice statistic. And I know that you’ve, like, before minicamp, when minicamp ended, you sat them down and said, ‘Be careful the next couple of weeks.’ How do you get the message across to your group that there’s something going on that’s wrong here, and how much responsibility do you take for it?

“As I just said, I take full responsibility, the greatest share of responsibility. I feel that is one of the responsibilities of the head football coach. Continue to do our very best, speaking for myself, speaking for our coaches, speaking for our organization. That is our job, that is our responsibility and we’ll do our very best as we have done. But our best needs to be better.”

Players that have had troubled backgrounds, you’ve drafted them, signed them. Some of them have turned their lives around here, been redemptive stories. How do you balance that? Of taking a player who might have a risky past and then not taking that player because maybe they do get arrested under your hospices?

“The thing we continue to point out is self-motivation. I think that is the only lasting thing. And continue to do a good job and take our responsibilities and do a better job of it. I think I’ve already exhausted the subject.”

On this specific decision whether McDonald plays on Sunday, is that your decision? Is that [general manager] Trent’s [Baalke] decision? Is that [chief executive officer] Jed’s [York] decision?

“Again, I see where you’re focused on the ‘who’ is making the decision. I feel like it’s – and I’ve explained this – that the important thing here is what’s going to make the decision. And it’ll be based on information, it’ll be based on fact, Tim.”

But someone has to decide what the facts are, correct? Someone has to decide this is the preponderance of evidence. Who makes that decision?

“In my opinion, it’s what information and fact. I’ve been asked that question. I feel like I’ve answered it.”

So, do you think something could change before the game? I mean, the next few days it’s up in the air as to whether he’ll play or not?

“Once you get fact, once you get information, then you’re going to be in a better time and a better place to make a decision or to make judgments.”

Do you think you’ll get that information?

“I don’t know [San Francisco Chronicle columnist], Ann [Killion]. I don’t know. I’m not here to tell you exactly what happened because I don’t know.”

Understood. But, probably by Sunday, you’re not going to have all of the facts, right?

“I don’t know that. I don’t know that.”

If he plays on Sunday, would that mean that you or someone in the organization had found some information throughout the week that gives you confidence that he is innocent?

“Again, I’m going to reiterate that this is a legal matter. There is a principle at stake. You seem to keep questioning that. You have a lot of follow-up questions on a very fundamental principle that could indeed require patience. But, I see a lot of polls. Should this, should this or should not, or this or that. I see a lot of polls. We could have an informal poll right now. Raise your hand if you are not in favor of due process. (pause) Not one hand.”


Well, define what due process is.

“It’s in the Constitution, Tim. Thank you. I’ve taken as many questions as I can take. It’s in the Constitution. It’s well defined. The Fifth Amendment.”

You’re not putting him in jail. The constitution is about putting someone in jail, not about whether he plays football or not. That’s a difference.

“Man or woman is not to be punished before due process occurs. I’ve taken as many questions as I’m going to take on that subject. If you have a question on football.”

Your general manager said yesterday that he’s always concerned about distraction. This is a distraction. What have you learned in your coaching experience that you’ll apply to avoid this being a distraction?

“Our expectations are to have a great practice, great meeting. The medicine’s out there on the football field and our preparation for the gameSunday is most important for today’s practice and today’s meeting.”

Are WR Brandon Lloyd and WR Stevie Johnson at full health going into this first game and do you have an idea going into Sundaywho that third receiver is going to be?

“We’ve gone through the whole training camp process and we’ve been very forthcoming on injuries and depth chart and who’s playing where and how they’re going to be used and how they been doing and what we expect them to do on Sunday. That information flow is getting tightened up. There’s an injury report and that’s about all we’ve got for you.”

G/T Alex Boone believes he’s ready to play Sunday and he said he met with you, felt it was positive, this is a business. Are you confident he can be ready to go as of Sunday?

“We’ll see. I mean, he’s getting back into practicing, meetings, et cetera, so, there will be a process. And again, we won’t divulge who’s going to be doing what and how they’re going to be doing it as much as we can. We’d love to have that information from the Cowboys.”

Is he in shape?

“He appears to be.”

Is there a plan to remove that roster exemption?

“Again, I just ask for your understanding. What we’re going to do, how we’re going to do it is …  keep a tight a flow as we can on that information.”

WR Michael Crabtree, this is a bit of a homecoming for him. How has he been in practice so far and what have you noticed anything about him, bigger jump in his step?

“I know he’s very excited, very excited about it. He’s never played there. That’s where he’s from. It’s definitely a big deal to him.”

Does he expect to have a lot of family there?

“I would think so. They’re a close family.”

Generally, with the third receiver, with the backup quarterback, with this position, that position, is it your philosophy to just keep competition on the practice field a weekly thing? The depth chart, whether it’s real or made up, is constantly fluid?

“Again, we can go into the philosophy of … that is football, what you’re talking about. Yes, to whatever your question just was. I kind of forgot it to be honest with you. (laughing)”

There’s always competition?

“There always is in football, sure.”

Statistically speaking, the Cowboys had one of the worst defenses in NFL history last year. They don’t have Cowboys LB Sean Lee, they don’t have Cowboys CB Orlando Scandrick. It appears they could be worse. What do you see on film? What kind of challenges could they present?

“Looking at a beefed up defensive line. They’re a fast team. I’m sure they’ll have things for us in the first game that you don’t expect, that they’ve been preparing for. The challenge that it always is, the first game of professional football.”

Through the years we’ve seen Cowboys S C.J. Spillman as a gunner and two guys out there and somehow finding a way to elude them and goes down and make a play. How big of a challenge is it for your gunners to matchup with him on Sunday?

“Very much of a challenge. We know what C.J.’s capable of doing on the football field and it’s a race to get to know their team. We know C.J., but some fact, he knows a lot of our guys. The scouting report, to close the gap on that will be very important as the week goes on.”

Do you go back to the game three years ago when the Cowboys beat you and just to show you guys what Cowboys QB Tony Romo is capable of doing?

“He’s a great quarterback. That was one of the games. I have great respect for Tony Romo and what he’s done over the course of his career. I saw that one firsthand. It looked like he was going to be out of the game and he came back and led a fourth quarter comeback. He’s a great player.”

What growth have you seen from C/G Daniel Kilgore? He makes his first start on Sunday. What does he bring to that offensive line that wasn’t there last year?

“I don’t want to compare it to a player last year. He’s doing a fine job. He’s excited for the game. He’s prepared himself extremely well and I think he’ll acquit himself very well.”

This article has 47 Comments

  1. “As I just said, I take full responsibility,
    the greatest share of responsibility.
    I feel that is one of the responsibilities
    of the head football coach.” – Coach Harbaw

    Please be prepared to say those words when
    the Niner season ends (minus a SB win), okay?

    I am the Super Bowl monkey and
    I approve of this message. (on your back, fella…)

    1. I guess the 49ers beat writers must have gotten together and decided to play the morality card, with the only way the 49ers can demonstrate any morals being to suspend McDonald…

      1. It’s only coming from the columnists Scooter. I’m not sure, but maybe the 49ers moral compass is telling them to gather all the facts and information before they make a decision.

      2. @Scooter,

        Why is it so complicated to understand “Due Process” with these idiots in the Media?

        Kawakami & Killion are the Biggest Tools on the 49ers Beat. Is there any argument with that?

        And I would answer back to these 2….

        Why hasn’t the SC DA’s Office charge McD already? This took place Sunday, today’s Thursday?

      1. A simple search of Killion’s tweets after the 49ers played Aldon Smith and lost to the Colts reveals her following jab at the 49ers:

        “Karma. She is a b***h. #49ers”


        It is a fine thing for a journalist to maintain professional distance from the team in order to remain objective. It is not good for a journalist to openly deride a team for not making the same judgment she would make from her ivory tower, and then to openly rejoice in the team’s losing. That’s not objective and is unprofessional.

        1. Some journalists believe that they are the conscience of society. These journalists don’t just report, they also emote. Here’s a question I pose to anyone who wants to answer: Who’s the best sports reporter in the Bay Area who doesn’t pretend to be our conscience?

      2. While i don’t agree with her on the morality stand, at least Killion was professional enough to fix an inaccuracy in this piece.

    2. “They are a test case. For the NFL. For the nation. For themselves. And they’ll be judged accordingly.”

      Yeah… let’s condemned a team before all the facts are out. Welcome to new America :(

  2. I got tired of that line of questioning just reading it. Time for the media to move on until there is more news and something to actually talk about.

  3. Who is predicting that the 49ers make the playoffs let alone win the Superbowl? What’s your point? Oh, that’s right. You don’t have a point — it’s more like an irrelevant chant.

    1. Directed at “ready for 2014 season opener.” I’m amazed at how many, from zero, got in between. I blame me for bothering.

  4. “…..It’s something we all know, we all live in America, we all understand that sometimes that patience is required when it comes to due process. But I think we all owe that. We all owe that to everybody that’s involved, is the respect for due process, in my opinion……”

    Gee …

    if I only had this quote… to show Grant ..
    BEFORE he went
    on that yahoo radio thingy …

    Would have made any difference … ?

    I dunno

  5. Hey guys, looking forward to another great season… this time going all the way. Is there a Yahoo Pick ’em league this year? If so I missed it. Can someone please let me know? Thanks!

    1. Never mind, I found it and joined in. I don’t play any fantasy league stuff, but this pick ’em league make the rest of the games a little more exciting. Cheers!

  6. The sports writers all got together and decided that people are guilty until proven innocent. And if you don’t join the lynch mob they will attack you as well.

    This mindset is why the USA has more people in jail than Red China + Russia + India combined with their population being 10x ours.

  7. If McDonald is proven to have committed a crime in this instance, he could very well become the first player to be slapped with a six-game suspension under the conduct policy. However, it appears it will be some time still before Goodell would have to levy that punishment. Until the legal system makes a determination if Ray Mcdonald is guilty of the charges.

  8. “Your team has led the league in arrests in the past three years. Not a very nice statistic.”
    And to think that last year, Harballer and fans waved their noses in the air @ the Seahawk team. Acting like the 49ers had high moral standards, above reproach!!

    At least the Seahawk locker room isn’t filled with a bunch criminal thugs.

    Does coach Harballer hear laughter ??
    His actions speak louder than words!!!

  9. Former 49ers kicker Joe Nedney on The Murph and Mac Show just now: “Harbaugh’s gotta make a stand, not let McDonald play. If not, after Aldon last year, it’d be two strikes”

        1. Of course he wouldn’t answer that question. There’s an ongoing police and team investigation.

          I’m not sure who Nedney thinks is keeping track of strikes, but it’s a media fabrication. The team has its own opinion that won’t be altered by columnists who believe they are the voice of morality.

          Unless there is clear factual evidence that implicates McDonald right now, there is absolutely no reason to sit him.

      1. I’d think Ray Mcdonald is guilty. Ray would’nt been arrested if they didn’t have enough evidence. I just don’t get it, after Goodell has just passed a new rule in domestic violence, here comes McDonald in the lime light being charges with it.

    1. Just hate to see after Aldon got nine games suspension, and now, if McDonald is found guilty of all charges he’ll get the maxium six games suspension. I highly doubt that Goodell will give Ray just two games like Rice of the Ravens.

  10. Ann Killion nailed it last night on YSTL when she said York needs to step up and answer these questions, not Harbaugh or Baalke.

    1. Very true! Don’t the 49ers have guide lines for their players how to conduct themselves off the field.. It seems some of the 49ers players are more reluctant to do whatever they want to do. A lot of people are probably wondering, why the 49ers management can’t control their own players behavior off the field, and conduct themselves as professionals off the field.

  11. Morality my arse … this is not about morality. How can making a judgement on a case without information be called moral?

    If the 49ers suspend McDonald now, they’ll have presumed him guilty. That’s not how it works in America. You are innocent until proven guilty.

  12. We are all more moral when “being moral” has a financial impact on someone else’s wallet but none on our own. The issue of McDonald playing or not playing because of his legal issues should be discussed withYork or Baalke because it is a million dollar financial issue. Pro football is a business. The fact that they have allowed Harbaugh to go on “point” and take questions from the press is cowardly and irresponsible. He doesn’t write the checks. Jed York especially needs to grow a pair. He remind me of a little kid that is playing football owner for mommy and daddy.

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