Without Aldon Smith, 49ers rate mediocre

This is my Saturday column.

This is not about the fairness or the morality of the NFL suspending Aldon Smith nine games without pay. Fairness and morality are beside the point. This is about reality.

No one on the 49ers objects to the suspension. Just after the news broke Friday afternoon, Trent Baalke released a written statement saying, “It’s time to put this matter behind us and focus on the season ahead.”

Even Aldon Smith doesn’t object. He released his own statement in which he apologized for getting suspended and said, “I have learned a lot and I’m working hard to grow from my experiences.”

I’m sure he has learned a lot — specifically, if he screws up again the NFL probably will suspend him for an entire season. And then who will want him? He already has gotten in trouble four times — arrested twice for DUI, once for owning and shooting illegal fire arms and once for making a bomb threat at LAX. No fifth chance for him.

Where do the 49ers stand without Smith? That is the only relevant question. The 49ers have three backups — Dan Skuta, Corey Lemonier and Aaron Lynch. Skuta is a run defender, not a pass rusher. Lemonier and Lynch are pass rushers. Last week, defensive coordinator Vic Fangio said Lemonier has “rushed the passer pretty good” in the preseason, and Fangio said Lynch has “decent athletic ability.”

In the UCLA English Department, professors taught us freshmen to circle key words. What were the key words in Fangio’s quote? If you circled “pretty good” and “decent,” you get a check-plus.

The 49ers have a one-two punch of “pretty good” and “decent” trying to replace a freak, one of the best pass rushers in football. Yikes.

Let’s go game-by-game and figure out exactly how much Aldon Smith’s nine-game suspension will affect the 49ers.

Week 1: In Dallas. The Cowboys have one of the best left tackles in football, Tyron Smith. He gave up just one sack last season. He probably won’t get beaten by Lemonier or Lynch, and that means the Cowboys will score a lot. They have an excellent offense that scored 27.4 points per game last season and they could score more than 30 against the Niners Week 1.

But the Niners could score 40. Dallas has the worst defense in football. Four of their best defenders are gone. Sean Lee tore his ACL and meniscus during OTAs, DeMarcus Ware signed with the Broncos, Jason Hatcher signed with the Redskins and Orlando Scandrick is suspended for the first four games of the season. The 49ers’ offense should look better than ever and the 49ers should win.

Week 2: The Bears. Another game the 49ers should win without Aldon Smith. The Bears scored 27.8 points per game last season, but their quarterback is Jay Cutler. He always throws critical interceptions because he is Jay Cutler — it’s in his DNA.

Like the Cowboys, the Bears have an awful defense. They gave up 30 points per game last season. You couldn’t even call them a defense — they were an adjunct offense for the opposing team, aiding and abetting their quest to score points. The 49ers should start the season 2-0.

Week 3: In Arizona. A game the 49ers probably would win with Aldon Smith. Last season, the 49ers barely beat the Cardinals in Arizona and Aldon Smith played in that game. It took a last-second field goal for the 49ers to win. Without Smith, this game won’t be so close. The Cardinals signed Jared Veldheer this offseason, a very good left tackle who should have no trouble blocking Lemonier or Lynch. The Cardinals should win this game.

Week 4: The Eagles. A loss with or without Aldon Smith. Chip Kelly’s no-huddle offense is difficult to defend, especially the first time you face it. The fast pace will tire out Justin Smith who turns 35 two days after this game.

Week 5: The Chiefs. Kansas City lost its left tackle Branden Albert this offseason — he signed with the Dolphins. The Chiefs are replacing him with Eric Fisher who has been terrible since they drafted him No.1 in 2013. He will make Lemonier and Lynch look like Hall of Famers and the Niners will beat the Chiefs.

Week 6: In St. Louis. This team had a chance to split the season series with the 49ers before Sam Bradford tore his ACL. Now the Rams will be lucky to win three games. The Niners will win this one, no sweat.

Week 7: In Denver. A second game the 49ers might have won if they had Aldon Smith. Without him, they have no chance. Peyton Manning will have forever in the pocket. His left tackle, Ryan Clady, is one of the best. He missed most of last season with a Lisfranc foot injury, but he’s back and will erase Lemonier and Lynch. Clady is good enough to erase Aldon Smith, too.

Week 8: Bye.

Week 9: The Rams. See Week 6.

Week 10: In New Orleans. A third game the 49ers might have won if they had Smith. The Saints beat the 49ers by just three points in New Orleans last season, a game in which Aldon Smith played. The only way to beat Drew Brees is to harass him with a strong four-man pass rush, and the 49ers don’t have one without Aldon Smith. The Niners will have to blitz, and Brees’ passer rating last season when blitzed was 114.4. The Niners should lose this game.

When Aldon Smith finally comes back, the 49ers probably will be 5-4 with two games still to go against the Seahawks. The Niners also have to play the Chargers Week 16 and the Cardinals Week 17.

10-6 is the best-case scenario for the 49ers this season, and 9-7 and 8-8 are realistic outcomes, too. Please don’t blame me. I’m merely doing the math.

Missing the playoffs for the first time in the Jim Harbaugh Era is another possible outcome.

You can’t blame it all on Aldon Smith. But he didn’t help.

Grant Cohn writes sports columns and the “Inside the 49ers” blog for The Press Democrat’s website. You can reach him at grantcohn@gmail.com.

This article has 137 Comments

  1. 5-0 without him……hes a great player but your way off..J Smith now healthy is what makes that front 7 work..Lynch might be the steal of the draft…It gonna hurt no doubt but not the end of the world.

  2. I had us down for 2 losses in the first half of the season anyway, even with Aldon. First of all, Lynch is probably better than anyone of us realize, and second, Skuta is an excellent pass rusher.

  3. People overrate the Eagles so much, the offense will take a step back especially with the loss of Desean Jackson and where is the improvement on that Eagles defense that gave up 48 points to the Vikings last year? They’ll probably win their division because the NFC East is awful but they won’t be a real contender.

  4. No worries Grant, don’t take much stock in predictions, grades, and take away that play is nonsense.

  5. Your major premise for our losses during the non-Aldon span is based on the match-ups between Skuta/Lemonier and the opposing Left Tackle; or, in the case of the Eagles game, Justin Smith getting tired. Seems like a simplistic way of wrapping up your thesis.

    I don’t suppose Bowman’s (hopeful) return during that span, an improving Lemonier/Lynch, and the holdovers–Willis and Brooks–can compensate at all? Not to mention a stronger D-Line rotation this year that will put added pressure on the QB?

    I’m biased and ever-hopeful, sure. But perhaps too much stock is being put on Aldon’s absence. If anything, I’d say the prediction for a mediocre season should be based on Aldon’s suspension AND Bowman’s injury AND Dorsey’s injury AND an uncertain O-line. Even then, we have a lot of talent to win some games, and will only get better as said players trickle back as the season progresses.

  6. I have 11-5. The 49ers split games with Seattle and Arizona, win both St Louis games. Eeek out victories against Dallas and Philly.

    W – Dallas (Losable of Romo has a good day, like week 2, 2011)
    W – Chicago
    L – Arizona
    W – Philadelphia (The Stanford 49ers know Kelly well. The running game will chew clock and pair well with the 49ers D.)
    L – Kansas City
    W – St. Louis
    L – Denver

    W – St. Louis
    L – New Orleans
    W – N.Y. Giants (Aldon back)
    W – Washington
    W – Seattle (Gobble, Gobble)
    W – Oakland (LOL)
    L – Seattle (Noise Factor)
    W – San Diego (49ers superior depth gives late season edge)
    W – Arizona (AZ can beat the 49ers, but not twice in a season)

    The Philly, New Orleans and Denver games will hinge in part on how the refs are calling PH/PI. If its like the preseason, hand the Lombardi to the Pats, Packers, Saints, Broncos.

    The NFLs untouchable “All American” looking drop back QBs are vital to long term revenue growth. Helps when their coaches dominate the competition committee.

    1. The defense 2007-2010 was pretty good. Manusky’s defense of Peyton Manning was masterful. The 49ers almost grabbed that game with virtually no offense.

  7. Yet the Niners go undefeated without AS last season. How in the world did they manage that, Grant?

  8. Skuta ain’t a half bad pass rusher either. nowhere near Aldon’s league obviously but he’s got some skills. I don’t think there’s that much difference between him and Lemonier….maybe just enough to give Lemons the edge in a pure pass rushing situation.

    your whole premise is sounds like without Aldon there is no pass rush at all. which simply isn’t true. it won’t be as dynamic, explosive and game breaking. so yes the defense won’t be as good…but that’s not exactly and earth shattering deduction. But there’s plenty left on the defense to keep them in games and to make critical stops.

  9. The 49ers chances hinge on
    – Officials throttling back on the ridiculous preseason PH/PI calls
    – An edge pass rush from someone not named Aldon
    – Pass catching from someone not named Crabtree, Boldin or Davis
    – 4.5+ YPC from from someone not named Gore
    – Improved game management from Harbaugh, big games
    – Minimal Injuries to key players, especially running back and NT. (The absence of Delany Walker was amplified after Bruce Miller got hurt)

  10. The 49ers not making the playoffs. Where have I heard that before? Oh yeah, that’s the consensus from every other media member alive.

    But in all seriousness, while it will be obviously tough to adapt without Aldon, I also believe they can do enough to get by. Lemonier, Lynch, and Carradine are guys they can use to supply some pass rush. Of course, none of these guys are Aldon (who is?), but they aren’t without options. I think the wildcard is the offense. If they don’t improve, then the team could be in trouble. The defense has carried the offense for years, so it’s time for the offense to return the favor.

  11. “8-8 are realistic outcomes”

    Grant, you want to make a friendly bet on this? I bet that the Niners wins 9 or more games this year. I’ll you give your money 2 – 1 :)

      1. CFC, I rather not bet against a 49ers fan – it won’t be fun for me :)

        But if Grant doesn’t want to then I might get back with you on this.

        1. You’ll have a better chance of collecting with me, Grant welches when he loses.

      1. You’ll have to actually have the courage to match your conviction for once and I know that’ll never happen.

        1. Are you referring to when you said Mr. Turner was going to run all over the 49ers in the Championship Game?

          1. You’re like the guy in the FedEx commercial that makes the one good suggestion in the business meeting and then tries to ride out the success of it for the rest of his career.

              1. You know what I’ll stop Razor because clearly being right about one thing at one point in your life was a pretty defining moment and I don’t want to be the guy to try and take that away from you.

        1. okay guys… I said “friendly bet”… I didn’t realize I might be opening a can of worm :) Let me hear from Grant first then we’ll go from there.

          1. Dude, I don’t mind you pocketing all the duckets, but can you get me a Press Democrat T-Shirt?

  12. The rest of the teams that made it to the playoffs including the one that won the SuperBowl didn’ have a “freak” pass rusher but instead only had “pretty good” and “decent” pass rushers but it didn’t seem to hurt them.

    1. Count me as a freak fan, but yes… the Super Bowl teams had pass rushing depth… like the 1984 49ers.

      Last year’s super subs Lemonier, Skuta and Wilhoite are now bolstered by Tank, Lynch and Borland.

      Tank and Lynch will provide a change of pace bull pass rush to compliment Lemonier and Skuta’s edge rush. Borland (and Ward) are excellent blitzers. I hope Fangio goes over some of Manusky’s performance vs Manning (Colts). Manning can be rattled.

        1. Of course Fangio has/will review the super bowl. I meant the 2010 49ers vs Colts game. Manusky was very creative in the way he pressured Manning… especially what he did with Justin and Haralson. They had Manning rattled.

            1. Ooops. It was the 2009 game vs the Colts.

              Tomsula was the D-line coach. It was Manning’s worst day of the season. He had Haralson, Justin, Brooks all standing, all moving around, crashing the pocket. The 49ers almost swiped that game.

  13. I did a quick count of 45 RB released. I only see five teams that could take a chance on Winston. Colts, Bengals, Browns, cardinals, or Dallas. Really I picked the colts because I think Winston is better than Richardson. Dallas lost Murray to Oakland. Cleveland is trying to eat the table scraps of the real contenders. They let the law firm go. Browns let a big name back go also.
    If we can dodge those teams Winston makes practice squad. The good news is Alfonso Smith and the law firm were released and are probably less risk same reward as Winston.
    Steven hill might just get Pattons spot on this team. I know he has some drops but he never really had a chance in NYJ. 6-4 with speed. Baalke probably choked when he saw that cut.

    1. Jerry is not smart enough to pick up Winston moves good, like a running back should…

  14. Not to mention that Hill fits the requirement of a knee surgery for Baalke to consider him a gem…

  15. This analysis is even more absurd than many of you have pointed out. Grant’s “proof” of the huge drop off is Fangio’s tepid comments about Lynch and Lemonier (and a wholly incorrect claim that Skuta is merely a run stopper, when he was one of the more effective pass rushers in the entire league last year in limited action), versus the “freak” they are replacing.

    Fangio ALWAYS talks like this, and you can rest assured that he never has and never will refer to Smith as a “freak”, so comparing YOUR turn of phrase to Fangio’s creates a much larger gap than would otherwise be the case.

    Now, of course there will be a drop off, but there was a drop off last year, too, and the team managed just fine. Moreover, this analysis fails to account for the team’s significant improvement in d-line depth and offensive personnel. Finally, comparing last year’s opponents to their 2014 models simply ignores how those teams have changed. Arizona tough to beat in Arizona last year? Yeah, and that defense is a shell of what it was last year.

    10-6 is a lot more like a worst case outcome than a best case scenario….

    1. Yeah, basing a massive drop off in production on Vic Fangio’s comments seems a tad strange. It is well known Fangio isn’t one to give much praise in public.

      Of course there will be a drop off, but its the same with any team that loses a good player. And there will be plenty of teams that lose good players between now and week 10. The real question is whether Lemonier, Skuta and Lynch can play well enough for the D as a whole to continue to execute at a high level. Based on what we saw last year, you’d have to think so.

  16. I can easily see Grant’s prediction come through but it’s also very possible it does not. The reason being is that as good as Aldon Smith is, he’s not the game changer a Reggie White was. He helps, but he’s does not turn the tide in a game.
    No doubt he is missed and the 49ers defense will struggle, but they have very capable backups that can get it done by committee.
    The real issue that we have not really talked about is how much the defense will miss Navarro Bowman.

    1. Coaching and talent along with the pride in one another, lock step in the common goal. Bring it back to the Bay baby!

      1. Well said Razor. My doubt comes from seeing teams like the Bills, and most recent Jets get so close in successive years, only to fall off the map.
        How hungry are the 49ers? How focused is this head coach in a contract year? How much has the QB improved to win it all?

  17. Wait, really!! there are people willing to bet against the niners winning at least 9 on this chat. I will honestly take all your bets 2:1 odds

    1. You are just a silly silly boy. If Aldon played for Dallas or Arizona he would have never been suspended and would still be sitting on his “reckless driving charge” from Miami.

      1. Or if Bisciotti was the owner, I guarantee he would have gotten a much better deal….

    2. If we go along with that ‘logic’, then Richard Sherman should have been out all of last season. Pot meet kettle ya dinglehopper.

  18. Niners going 12-4 verses 10-6 will all come down to OL and DL. If they r better than they looked in preseason, we win SB. If they are worse we don’t. By the way, I believe we win every game with smith out last year, but cannot recall exactly.

  19. Well I would’ve like to see us taken Stephen Hill back in 2012…We had Moss here..what better way to observe and learn the position..than watchin Randy..Then Stephen could slowly get worked in the offense..That big deep threat..His knock was playing at Georgia tech..where they run more than passing..Perfect situation for him to come here..I was shocked we didn’t pick him..but oh well.

  20. I think you’re placing too much emphasis on Aldon and not giving Fangio enough credit. Our friend Mr. Hammer wrote this. http://ninerchatter.blogspot.com/2013/11/updated-does-49ers-defense-miss-aldon.html

    I’d love to see some data to back up that the whole 49ers D and winning revolves around Aldon. Remember in their SB run he only played passing downs. He’s not great agains the run and can be a liability in coverage. He’s great at rushing the passer. You’re not respecting Fangio and the heart of this defense.

    The 49ers had 7 sacks in preseason. Not a single one was from a starter. Lemonier 2, Lynch 1, Borland 1, Wilhoite 1, Carradine 1, Purcell 1. Fangio will get pressure, he’s a great coach and harder on his players than you are.

  21. If… and I say IF we are in a rebuilding year… do we trade the guys who we think we cannot re-sign. Iupati and Boone immediately come to mind. Also, Gore will be a UFA next year. What would be the advantage of this? Not only would it give us picks to replenish, it would remove salary from this year’s cap that can be used toward next year.

    btw, i’m not saying this only because of Aldon. I think he’s just one of our problems this season.

    1. A good general manager is always rebuilding some part of the team. Trades are always a possibility, but not any of the players you listed if the trade offer was anything but insane.

        1. Let’s put it this way Sully. One 49ers source said that the team would only accept a first or second round pick for Boone while another source with the team said that Baalke would have to be blown away by an offer from a team wanting Boone. My guess is that the team wouldn’t part with Gore unless it was for at least a second round pick. As for Iupati, I think Baalke would want a deal that would make the Washington-St. Louis trade a couple years back look like chump change.

  22. Sorry dude. You’re no longer worth reading. Your negativity has poisoned my RSS feed for the last time. I’m all for fair and even reporting, but you’re just a downer.

  23. Anyone know the exact time when 24 hour waivers ends, and PS signings begin? I’m guessing around 2pm.

  24. Love that you penned this garbage. The way your last couple of years have gone you’ve basically handed us the NFC West.
    The only thing that I would describe as mediocre is reading the articles that you write for controversy. Once again, we as a 49er fan base are fired up for our season to start, and you want to kill it before it begins. Were you the 15 year old that broke it to your 6 year old brother that Santa didn’t exist? You sure act like it brother Cohn.
    How about this year you respect that fact that you write for a fan base. How about this year you try to provide quality articles providing details that are not easily known to the common fan. You don’t always have to piss in our Cherios and then present it as if it were a quality breakfast……

    1. @Bay
      Don’t let it bring you down, bro; consider the source. The guy who supposedly is going to bring us insights and is a professional carefully covering the team thinks Skuta can only play the run when he’s been an effective blitzer, the same guy who panned RayMac as not making a difference; THIS GUY comes up with something, it just doesn’t need to bother you.
      Like Mud or 40whiner; just blow it off.

      1. Thanks BT. It’s just too bad that I have to come to a room to talk 49er football and it feels like Richard Sherman’s little brother is writing the blog articles.

        1. Like I asked before, Is there any other industry out there that can antagonize their customer and consider it a good business?

    2. One can be a fan and also offer an objective analysis…isn’t that what reporting REQUIRES?

  25. Entertaining read.

    “Please don’t blame me. I’m merely doing the math.”

    Nope. You’ve done far more than just math.

    1. Math… with irrational numbers.

      Fact is, until we see the revamped D in action for a few weeks we won’t have any idea as to whether they can get the job done at a high level, decent level, or below par. We all know losing Bowman, Smith and Dorsey for the first half of the season could cause some problems for our D. There is going to be pressure on other star players like Willis, Justin Smith, Ray McDonald, Brooks, Bethea and Reid to step up, and for the young guys filling in to play effective football. They may not be a top 5 D, but I don’t see them dropping off to a bottom of the pack kind of D either, unless the young guys are completely inept.

      The main pressure is going to be on the offense to put up some points and keep the defense fresh. This is the area the team has invested heavily in improving. If the offense sputters, yeah, the 49ers are likely going to be in some trouble. The D may struggle to keep the team in games when the offense gets nothing going. But if they can keep possession, move the ball and put up some points then the team should be fine.

      The big positive out of all this is that some young guys on D will get some invaluable experience during the first half of the season, and the team will be getting some star players back for a push towards the playoffs at the end of the year.

      1. Don’t see the loss of Dorsey as a big drop. Williams was good enough to beat him out a year ago.

        Bowman will be missed, but I think Wilhoite played decent last year when called upon. And didn’t Larry Grant start a bunch of games in 2012?

        I can understand why some question this team, but I also think the answers to those questions are already there. They just choose not to see them.

        1. Yep, so long as guys like Wilhoite, Williams, Lemonier, Skuta, etc. all play decently (which there should be every reason to think they can, as they have before), the 49ers still have enough quality players on D to be a good unit.

          If the offense helps by keeping the ball then the D will also be better able to stay fresh, which could be a big benefit when coupled with decent looking depth on the DL this year.

        2. They also forget how much success is dependent on good health at the NFL level. Good health is never a given. Neither is good officiating at critical moments during a teams season.

          Football is Zen. Enjoy.

        3. Jack, are you serious with this? Wilhoite?? If you really want to be a reporter, you have to be objective. To suggest that “some question this team, but I also think the answers to those questions are already there. They just choose not to see them” sounds like some bull from Mulder on the X-Files.

    2. Along with “Fairness and morality are beside the point. This is about reality.” these quotes fit nicely with the paternal school marm overtone to many posts that find there way here. Then of course the piece ends with blame as in “You can’t blame it all on Aldon Smith. But he didn’t help.”

      Aldon Smith came to the 49ers as an alcoholic who, to his credit, is trying to find his personal cure before it’s too late for his career. If he wins now, everyone wins. If he wins, but too late for his career, then only the people who care about Aldon win but that win would be just as important.

  26. Grant,

    There is virtually no way this 49er team goes 8-8, and you know it. When you write such things, it makes you look like a fool. You’re not a fool (probably), so why write things that make you look like one?

  27. I agree with Grant. The four potential losses he lists over the first nine games are what I would predict to possibly be losses even with Smith (although I was 50/50 on both Philadelphia and Arizona). Without Smith, I think they are all more likely than not losses (but the fan in me sure hopes I am wrong).

    As for the games with Aldon, I like the 49ers to go 5-2 (losses to Seattle and San Diego) or 6-1 (with Seattle as the one loss), for a 10-6 or 11-5 record.

    1. JPN,

      We’ll see at the end of the season.

      Should win easily category (I’m talking about expectation and not ignoring the any given Sunday factor):

      2x Rams


      Should win (these games are games that seem like the 49ers should be clear favorites to win, but, of course, won’t win them all):



      2xArizona (is anyone paying attention to what has happened to their defensive front seven? I mean, really, I don’t know if I’ve seen one prediction that has the 49ers winning both from Arizona. I’m not saying they will for certain, but I do feel that chances are better the 49ers sweep the Cards than they split, or worse.)



      Tough game, but should win (won’t win all of these):

      Seattle @ SF


      Tough game, but should lose (won’t lose all of these):
      Seattle @ Seattle
      NO @ NO

      Not sure which games they will win or lose,but they should win twelve of those games.

  28. This is obviously a troll headline but the analysis is at least relatively thorough. One thing grant ignores is that we beat Ari without Aldon- and perhaps more significantly their defense lost two pro bowl caliber inside line backers and their star defensive end. Their defense is liable to regress.

    Another couple thoughts: 10-6 isn’t mediocre. 10-6 is good. It most likely gets you into the playoffs. Secondly I agree that our defense won’t be as good, however, our offense has upgraded at wr and possibly running back. Vance looks better as te2 as well. If our line can play even okay, we should score much more.

  29. Just like the John Clayton commercial, I can just picture Grant writing up these articles from the basement of Chateau Cohn -bumping the new Taylor Swift video (Shake it off). He might just be wearing his hat with the pony tail in it.

    So save the criticism please. It’s a gifted hit. Those just fuel the fire. If we want to end the hate mongering going on, simple ignore his articles and continue to discuss 49er things with the fan base here. It would force article to be less antagonistic and more in depth.


  30. Man, I just LOVE how we are underrated this year. Even Matt Barrows thinks we are goingo 10-6.

    It feels like 2011 again. And I really enjoyed that season.

    But now we have a much better ofense. Look out NFL!!!

    1. Preliminary reports indicate the victim was bruised. Under CA Penal code for corporal injury on an intimate partner (CA Penal Code 273.5), the accused may be charged with a misdemeanor or a felony. It is a “wobbler” offense, like the weapons charges against Smith were, meaning the prosecutor has discretion on whether to charge as felony or a misdemeanor. A report I read indicated that McDonald’s fiancée is pregnant – that may be an aggravating factor, depending on the stage of the pregnancy and the area of the injury. A felony charge would likely lead to pleading down to a misdemeanor or a jury trial, which would not be set for some time.

      This is an interesting issue for the team and the league. If McDonald is charged (with ether a felony or a misdemeanor), I expect the 49ers and the league to follow normal procedures and wait for a final disposition of charges. If this is the case, he will play this year.

      However, both the team and the league are able to discipline players prior to final disposition of the charges. And no, the NFL personal conduct policy does not require the criminal case be concluded for a first time violation (which this is likely not, as McDonald had a DWI in 2010, and the personal conduct policy does not require that prior violations have resulted in discipline for them to be considered as prior violations) before discipline is handed down – it merely sets that such procedure will “generally” be followed.

      Given the bad press for the Rice discipline, and given the commissioner issued his strongly worded (although ultimately non-binding) letter to the teams concerning his new discipline policy for DV issues, we may see a suspension prior to criminal conviction. The ultimate evidentiary source under the controlling documents is the league’s own investigation, not the criminal investigation/court proceeding. As long as the NFL’s investigation finds wrong doing, and said investigation was done with due diligence, it is unlikely that discipline based on it would be overturned, even without a conviction.

  31. Yep, nothing gets the blood flowing in the morning like a good cup of coffee and a police blotter story of yet another 49er allegedly committing a crime.

    1. If true, he’s done working for this team. Harbaugh has stated if you put your hands on a woman, you’re done as an employee….

  32. I hope the 49ers don’t wait for a suspension and just cut him. Forget the six games, hitting a pregnant woman is unforgivable.

  33. At least we have a high powered offense to help offset the hits to the defense we’ve taken in recent days…oh wait.

  34. I said it weeks ago and it’s becoming more and more obvious. The San Francisco 49ers have more issues than any team in the NFL. It’s virtually impossible for this team to win a Super Bowl. We may very well not have a winning record.
    It’s like the players on this team need babysitters. These guys can’t police themselves. Who knows is the Ray McDonald story is true. If it is, he is a clown idiot. This team needs Harry Edwards back to babysit them. They are out of control.

    1. We have to remember Ray Mac was drafted late because of charachter concerns..Alot of our team even Bowman were drafted a little later cause of charachter concerns..Its the risk you take…Lynch is the same way…he looks like hes going to be a steal but that old side can pop out at anytime.

    2. Well last year several 49ers fans said similar things about the Seahawks after those “adderall” cases.

      And it didn’t turn out bad for them.

  35. Quinton Dial and Tank Carradine…thank god for Baalke thinking ahead and draftingfor depth…Now this article might be more valid

    1. Dial and Tank have shown a lot of promise. Dial as a two-way guy, Tank as just a pass rusher for now.

  36. Yes, if RayMac did commit the alleged crime the six game suspension without pay recently created by the league offices seems petty.
    Of course there is now the process of investigating the case for any mitigating circumstance, but on the surface and at face value, no man (especially an athlete) should ever put hands on a women.

    RayMac’ career may possibly be done as a 49er, and that would not bother me one bit if allegations prove to be true.

    1. The letter sent to the teams announcing the six game minimum suspension is in no way binding on the commissioner. It is merely a new stated policy on how he intends to use his discretion that is inherent under the NFL’s personal conduct policy. As it is not part of the controlling documents under the collective bargaining agreement, he can change it at any time and for any reason. The letter served two major purposes – it was a PR move, and it gave the teams and players notice, meaning longer suspensions for DV would pass review.

      Even if it were a binding policy, as the letter provides for the consideration of both aggravating factors (mentions the suspension could be greater if warranted) and mitigating factors (factors that would lead to a decrease of the suspension), the commissioner reserved the right to use his discretion. In other words, the commissioner could issue no suspension or a lifetime ban under his own stated policy and still be within his discretion so long as the factors listed in the personal conduct policy (e.g. prior offenses, severity of the offense, harm to others, etc.) were duly considered.

      The more I read the controlling documents, the more impressed I am with the NFL’s lawyers over the NFLPA’s lawyers. The commissioner has almost no effective checks on his discretion in player discipline.

      1. JPN,
        I believe that Goodell established a rule that a player involved in a DV case would not need to be convicted in a court of law as a premise for the NFL to suspend said player.

        This rule seems to come in light of the Ray Rice case in which there was a definitive act of violence but no conviction because his then fiancée dropped all charges.

        The NFL will perform their due diligence and process in mitigating each DV case, but when all is said and done I like the fact that the NFL will take a firm stance regardless of the courts actions.

        1. The commissioner sent a letter to the owners (http://espn.go.com/nfl/story/_/id/11425532/roger-goodell-letter-nfl-teams-domestic-violence-policy) outlining his discipline policy with respect to domestic violence. These are not new rules as rules must be part of the personal conduct policy. This is merely the commissioner exercising his discretion and promulgating a disciplinary procedure he intends to follow in certain circumstances. It gives guidance to the teams, but it is not binding on the commissioner.

          As for the issue of convictions, under the terms of the personal conduct policy, which controls, convictions are not necessary (although “generally” the commissioner’s office will wait for the outcome of criminal case in a first violation situation). This aspect of the discipline procedures outlined under the personal conduct policy has been and is being reported poorly.

          Further, even if the letter did establish new rules, convictions are not specified as necessary in the language of the letter with respect to discipline. The relevant part of the letter reads:

          “Finally, and consistent with our Personal Conduct Policy, our own response to domestic violence or sexual assault incidents by NFL personnel will include new elements of evaluation, treatment and family support, as well as enhanced discipline. We will address these issues fairly and thoughtfully, respecting the rights of all involved and giving proper deference to law enforcement and the courts. If someone is charged with domestic violence or sexual assault, there will be a mandatory evaluation and, where professionally indicated, counseling or other specialized services. Effective immediately, violations of the Personal Conduct Policy regarding assault, battery, domestic violence or sexual assault that involve physical force will be subject to a suspension without pay of six games for a first offense, with consideration given to mitigating factors, as well as a longer suspension when circumstances warrant. Among the circumstances that would merit a more severe penalty would be a prior incident before joining the NFL, or violence involving a weapon, choking, repeated striking, or when the act is committed against a pregnant woman or in the presence of a child. A second offense will result in banishment from the NFL; while an individual may petition for reinstatement after one year, there will be no presumption or assurance that the petition will be granted. These disciplinary standards will apply to all NFL personnel.”

          All the commissioner states with respect to legal proceedings is “proper deference” will be given “to law enforcement and the courts.” This sets no binding condition regarding convictions. Furthermore, the new disciplinary scheme is, as stated, “consistent with the Personal Conduct Policy” (the source of the commissioner’s authority in such matters), which, as indicated above, does not require conviction prior to discipline.

          In the McDonald case we should note that the list of aggravating factors above specifically mention acts “committed against a pregnant woman… .” The six game first offense suspension guideline many people keep mentioning, which is discretionary not mandatory anyway, will likely not set the maximum suspension time here if the NFL finds compelling evidence that McDonald violated the personal conduct policy in the manner now alleged.

          Given recent publicity, I do not expect the commissioner to act prior to resolution of criminal charges, if such are brought. But that does not mean he cannot, or that he may not if charges are not prosecuted or a conviction is not obtained.

  37. If I was Harbaugh, don’t know if I would sign an extension. Can’t win a SB without your players on the field

  38. So the chain of events is Ray McDonald restructures his contract then goes home and beats his pregnant girlfriend. From 3.5 million to league minimum was enough to make him snap. Hit the road jack. I agree his playing days are over in SF. It being a holiday weekend, he won’t be in court for a bail hearing until Wednesday morning. With felony domestic violence the victim has to be contacted before he is released so I’d say Wednesday night at the earliest. That takes him out of the Dallas game. I suspect he is cut immediately.

    1. Matt,

      Sounds like you know how due process goes. He won’t get cut. As a matter of fact, he will play Sunday. The Niners realize that the commissioner has a mind of his own. Ray is getting paid, might as well play him until the courts decide his fate.

      At least Boone is coming back soon. We really needed him. Our offensive line was going to get Kap killed.

    1. Boone will make $6 million over the next 2 years and that can jump to $8 million if he’s an All-Pro. Team cannot use Franchise tag on him at end of deal.

    1. Great news for the O-line! I know the VD argument is different than the Boone argument…but if I were the FO, I might now give VD a little something extra to keep him from feeling bad about ending his holdout with nothing to show for it. The Hawks gave Marshawn an extra million guaranteed–which he probably would have made in incentives anyway–to return to camp. Maybe something like that.

  39. Man oh man. I guess I’ll just wait for some facts to emerge before I convict him, but I have no tolerance on this issue. I’m not sure about procedures and suspensions and the like, but I’d strongly prefer the team kept him inactive while this gets resolved. Right after the RR thing and the hyper-reaction to it? Dang. Stupid.
    In terms of football, his loss will hurt badly; another chink in the armor of a Defense with a lot to prove. But you know what? I don’t care how many losses his absence will cost the team, this time the team needs to take a stand.
    Sigh, this s*** sucks the fun out of football.

  40. Penal Code 273 may be charged as felony or a misdemeanor, and as police do not set the level of the charge, at this time it is too early to state the nature of the pending charge. Notice to the victim is required if the victim has requested such notice or if a restraining order has been issued. If the victim is in court for the bail hearing, that is considered notice to the victim.

    Given that most major cities schedule all-day bail hearings in multiple courtrooms for the day following a holiday weekend, it is possible that McDonald could be out on Tuesday afternoon if everything is favorable, although Wednesday evening is certainly possible as well.

  41. I think Grant has a valid point. Although I think they will go 6-3 winning the Arizona game. I don’t care who they got, they lost two big pieces on their defense, their o-line is horrible AND they can’t beat the 49ers.
    I keep hearing we went 5-0 without Smith last season. We did BUT we had a guy who went nuts and played so well he filled in others positions including his own. And that man wears #53. Make no mistake and don’t forget how crazy he was playing last season. Easily IMO defensive player of the year. Whelp… We won’t have that mad man this time while Smith is not playing. So that’s TWO shoes to fill, and bowman was the other sack guy they would send to get pressure on qb’s at the time. This will ( and I believe it will) have to be a great coaches first half. One coach I don’t doubt is Fangio. 6-3 heading into NY grant.

  42. If the 49ers end up 8-8 this season it will guarantee at least 2 more Super Bowl in the next 5 years. The 9ers drafting in the middle of each rd with the phenomenal talent they already have in place will put them over the top for at least 5 years. I am sticking with my prediction that the 2014 draft class will develop into one of the great draft classes of all time, you follow that up with a class of mid rd picks and can you say dynasty.

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