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Tuesday, September 2, 2014
McDonald's playing status uncertain

By Paul Gutierrez
ESPN.com

SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- San Francisco 49ers general manager Trent Baalke met with reporters Tuesday afternoon in the wake of linebacker Aldon Smith being issued a nine-game suspension to start the season for numerous transgressions and defensive tackle Ray McDonald's arrest early Sunday for domestic violence.

Baalke said the matter of potential discipline for McDonald would be doled out by the team, rather than the NFL. He also echoed coach Jim Harbaugh's earlier stance on his weekly radio appearance on KNBR, during which he said domestic violence would not be tolerated, while saying there also was due process involved. As such, Baalke would not say if McDonald would play in the Niners' season opener at the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday.

Ray McDonald
The 49ers will open their regular season Sunday against Dallas, but it remains to be seen whether recently arrested DT Ray McDonald will play.

"That remains to be seen," Baalke said. "Once again there's due process. We're still in fact-finding mode trying to get as much information as we can. We'll have more knowledge today and certainly more knowledge the next day, moving forward. Nothing's been determined at this point."

A year ago, Smith was allowed to play in a game -- all 72 snaps -- two days after a single-car accident in which he was arrested for DUI. Smith then went to rehab and missed five games -- for which he was paid -- and the 49ers went 5-0.

Baalke said nothing should be gleaned from the way the 49ers handled Smith in how the team might deal with McDonald.

"Aldon's case doesn't have anything to do with this case," Baalke said. "They're separate issues and they're going to be dealt with separately."

The NFL, though, might have a quicker response for McDonald as commissioner Roger Goodell announced stronger penalties last week for league employees guilty of domestic violence: six games for players after a first offense, a lifetime ban for a second.

Baalke said the 49ers have been in contact with the league on "several occasions" since Sunday.

"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," Baalke said. "They're guiding us but they're not telling us exactly how to handle this matter. The matter will be handled by the organization."

The 49ers have had 10 arrests since 2012. Baalke was asked if the team has a discipline issue.

"I've always believed one (arrest) 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, whether you're a coach, whether you're in 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. And we'll continue to do that."

He was also asked if the league-leading number of arrests was an embarrassment.

"Well, I think you could answer that question yourself," he said. "Obviously, this isn't something that any of us are happy about. But it's the situation we're in. Any time you face adversity, it's how you deal with it. We're going to do the best we can to bring a resolution to this and to do the best job we can, of all of us, players, coaches, everyone else, being the best members of this community that we can be. That's our goal. Always has been, always will be."