Harbaugh: Not denying 'due process'

Updated: September 5, 2014, 4:06 PM ET
By Paul Gutierrez | ESPN.com

SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- San Francisco 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh dismissed the notion Wednesday that a person -- himself? general manager Trent Baalke? CEO Jed York? -- would be the one to make a judgment on the immediate future of defensive lineman Ray McDonald, saying "it's 'what's' going to make the decision -- and that's information and fact."

No decision had been made as to whether McDonald, who was arrested over an alleged domestic-violence incident Sunday, would play in Sunday's season opener at the Dallas Cowboys, Harbaugh said.

McDonald, meanwhile, ran out to practice about 19 minutes after it began on Wednesday afternoon.

McDonald has yet to be formally charged after posting $25,000 bail and being released Sunday afternoon. He told TV cameras at the scene it was a "crazy situation" and that the "truth" would soon come out.

Harbaugh also reiterated his stance that two principles were at play when it came to potentially disciplining his player -- the 49ers will not tolerate domestic violence and due process.

"We all live in America," Harbaugh said. "We all understand that sometimes that patience is required when it comes to due process. But hey, we all owe that to everybody that's involved, which is respect to due process, in my opinion.

"It's a legal matter. Remember that, please."

Commissioner Roger Goodell, speaking Wednesday night during a youth event in Renton, Washington, said the NFL is closely watching McDonald's case after the institution of the league's new policy on domestic violence.

But Goodell echoed Harbaugh, saying the league is waiting to get all the facts in McDonald's case and that any discipline under the new policy would not be applied until the legal system had run its course.

"I think the first thing you have to do is let the process play out and get the facts and make sure you understand all the circumstances," Goodell said. "We don't right now. We obviously are following it very closely, but the policy we applied uniformly, players, coaches, executives, commissioners, I think we made that very clear in the policy."

Harbaugh's contentious media conference took a bizarre turn when he asked the assembled reporters, "Raise your hand if you are not in favor of due process."

No one played along. No one raised a hand.

"Not one hand," Harbaugh mused.

Told there was a difference between legal due process in the court system and with a professional football team, Harbaugh said, "It's in the Constitution ... Fifth Amendment.

"Man or woman is not to be punished before due process occurs."

Harbaugh also said the fact his 49ers lead the NFL with 10 arrests since 2012 fell on his shoulders.

"I take full responsibility," Harbaugh said, "a great share of responsibility. That's my responsibility as a head football coach."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

Paul Gutierrez

ESPN San Francisco 49ers reporter

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