General manager John Lynch said Wednesday the 49ers are not applying different standards to Reuben Foster.
Last offseason, the club released cornerback Tramaine Brock just hours after he was arrested for an alleged domestic violence incident.
Foster was arrested Feb. 12 in Los Gatos on charges of domestic violence, threats and possession of an assault weapon. He remains on the 49ers' roster.
Lynch declined to get into any specifics about what the club knows about the circumstances surrounding Foster’s arrest.
“We’ve made it a part of our core principles, our core values, that we’re going to be transparent,” Lynch said at the NFL Scouting Combine. “We feel like the fans deserve to know. We want them to know. With this, we’ve been a little quiet. And that’s for a reason. There are certain places I can’t and won’t go because we’re dealing with an ongoing legal matter. That’s in everyone’s best interest.”
Lynch said the 49ers were not more inclined to deal with Brock more harshly based on his playing status. The 49ers traded up to select Foster with the No. 31 overall pick in last year’s draft. Brock, a holdover from the previous regimes, was set to enter his eighth NFL season. Ultimately, Brock was not charged, due to insufficient evidence, and faced no NFL suspension.
“He was a starting cornerback for us,” Lynch said of Brock. “We didn’t take that lightly. Anybody who watched us play – I wouldn’t say a weakness -- but an area of concern for us was the cornerback position. And that had a large part to do with it.
“It was a decision we felt was best for everyone involved and we made it accordingly. Each situation is unique and different.”
When asked what can be read into the fact the 49ers dealt immediately with Brock and the club has not made a move with Foster, Lynch answered, “Because of the sensitive nature and it’s ongoing, I’m going to leave that alone. Read into what you might.”
Foster was considered a character risk a year ago after he admitted to a failed drug test and was sent home early from the combine after a non-physical altercation with a hospital worker as he awaited his physical.
“If you remember at this time last year, there was a lot of discussion about Reuben,” Lynch said. “One thing we knew was we were going to have to put great structure around him. One lesson I learned, it’s probably a lot easier to do that in the college environment than in the NFL. These guys have to be men. We take the approach that we’re going to equip them with every resource that we can.”
Lynch and coach Kyle Shanahan have spoken to Foster multiple times this offseason. Foster was arrested a month earlier in Alabama for marijuana possession.
“We have talked with Reuben and the context in a broad sense of what we discussed with Reuben is just our expectations for him and our expectations for all our players,” Lynch said. “We have a high standard. We made that very clear with him. We remain in communication.”
The Santa Clara County District Attorney’s office has the case and is considering whether to pursue criminal charges against Foster. He could also be subject to NFL discipline.
Foster’s uncertainty is an area of concern for the 49ers, who must consider the possibility of adding a starter-caliber player at inside linebacker this offseason.
“You have to take those things into account on every situation,” Lynch said. “Everything in this league is fluid, so you have to be able to move quickly and kind of adjust philosophies. Yeah, that will be something that we have to take into account, whether it’s in free agency, re-signing our own guys or whether it be in the draft. That’s certainly something we’re aware of and are taking into account.”