The San Francisco 49ers remained supportive of Reuben Foster until the linebacker gave the team no choice but to sever ties with him.
That was the prevailing sentiment in the locker room after Sunday’s 27-9 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
“It’s what they had to do. I think the organization has handled the situation as best they could,” cornerback Richard Sherman said of the swift decision to release Foster following his arrest on a domestic violence charge hours before the game.
“They’ve been patient and understanding of the type of person Reuben is and what kind of heart he has,” Sherman added. “But you understand the decision the organization has to make after repeated offenses.”
Foster was arrested at the team hotel in Tampa and jailed overnight following an incident involving the second-year linebacker and a companion police identified as the same woman who accused Foster of hitting her in February, but later recanted the allegations.
General manager John Lynch and coach Kyle Shanahan said in April after charges from the earlier case were eventually dropped that the team had a zero-tolerance policy.
“I care about Reuben, but nobody is bigger than the team,” Shanahan said, adding Foster had broken trust.
“Our No. 1 rule is you got to protect the team, and he has put us in a bad light too much,” the coach added. “Hopefully this will fix him and he can be successful somewhere else.”
Sherman said players attended team meetings Saturday night and went to bed not knowing anything had happened.
“A lot of people woke up to the news. It’s just sad. You hate to see it. He worked hard and he’s grown as a guy,” Sherman said, reiterating he felt Foster had shown signs of making progress in the right direction before Saturday.
“When you grow up under the circumstances that he grew up … you don’t have parents and you move home to home … you just make the best of what you got, and that’s what he tried to do,” Sherman said.
“He got himself to Alabama, got himself to the NFL. It’s tough to develop the skills that you need to kind of make your way in the world, and he was trying,” Sherman added. “He was working hard. He knew his deficiencies and knew what he had to do. It’s just unfortunate this situation keeps coming up”
Quarterback Nick Mullens said once the news began to spread, the 49ers took precautions to not let Foster’s situation become a distraction against the Bucs.
“I don’t think it was,” Mullens said.
“I definitely addressed the elephant in the room when I saw (the players),” the coach said. “But no, it didn’t affect the game at all.”