Jim Harbaugh says he won’t keep a player guilty of domestic violence


When 49ers Ray McDonald was arrested for felony domestic violence this weekend, he became the first test case for the league’s new, tougher policy on the matter.

But he’ll also test his own coach’s long-held attitude toward players who put their hands on women.

During his regular appearance on KNBR this morning, Harbaugh made it clear he would not tolerate behavior such that McDonald has been accused of.

“I’ll be very clear,” Harbaugh said, via Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com. “You ask me how I feel about domestic violence. I can be very clear about that. If someone physically abuses a woman and/or physically or mentally abuses or hurts a child then there’s no understanding, there’s no tolerance for that.”

Asked if he would not allow a player convicted of such charges to remain on his team, he replied: “Yes, we would not. We can be very clear.”

McDonald is continuing to practice with the 49ers, and has maintained his innocence. The 49ers have said they’ll continue to investigate, and Harbaugh said he was also convinced he needed to let the legal process play out.

“There are going to be two principles at play here,” Harbaugh said “And one is, I’ll speak for myself, I’ll speak for the 49ers: We’ll not tolerate domestic violence. The second principle, we’re firm believers in due process. And I ask for your understanding on those two principles.”

Those are not mutually exclusive principles. But it does put Harbaugh in stark contrast to his brother John, who has wrapped his arms around running back Ray Rice, whose shamefully light punishment triggered the increased punishment McDonald could face.

104 responses to “Jim Harbaugh says he won’t keep a player guilty of domestic violence

  1. Hey Coach, if for some reason you decide to no longer coach, would you please consider becoming the next commissioner? Thank you.

  2. I’m no 49ers fan but the legal process ~MUST~ play out first. Accusations are one thing, convictions another entirely!

  3. In other words, if he hires a good enough lawyer and gets off, great!! Lets be honest here…if Ray Rice or Ray MacDonald are fringe players they are both cut that day.

  4. Having high-powered legal defense teams on speed dial means never having to say you’re worried.

  5. His statement will not effect this situation. in three or four years when it is finally adjudicated, McDonald will plead to passing gas in the direction of the lady. Meanwhile, he will play every game for the 9ers.

  6. So that’s where the coach draws the line, domestic violence?

    Well, I guess Aldon Smith’s indiscretions are still acceptable? Maybe because of his on-field play?

    Good to see Jim Harbaugh is a man of moral courage.

  7. Hate to say it like this, but where there’s smoke, there’s fire. No doubt in my mind that this guy at least crossed a fine line. 3 AM calls to the police department are typically a sign that something is not right.

  8. If found guilty, it should be interesting what Harbaugh actually does and how long before he gets rid of the guy. If each coach and team felt the same way, would they actually get rid of Manning, AP, or another big name player if they did it. Sorry, I have always been cynical.

  9. I am sure once the woman in question realizes the financial repercussions of her accusations she will back pedal like they always do and McDonald will be fine. It happens every time.

  10. Both good points from the coach.

    Hopefully he follows through if McDonald is convicted.

    The NFL is easier on criminals then any other sports league and any other legitimate business that I am awere of.

    Most companies a felony conviction and you just gone permanenetly and no other company would hire you either.

    The NFL comissioner and owners don’t want to be that tough because they will lose good talent, but that is just greedy. They can fix the league very easily if they want to. So many players are dying to make the NFL. If some players who can’t stop committing crimes lose their jobs then there will be other players ready to take their place in a heartbeat. Sure the overall play may slightly degrade, but we all still watch College ball and we don’t care that the quality is not as good as the NFL. It will still be a great quality game. Get rid of the criminals.

  11. So all he needs now is for McDonald to get the charges reduced, then he can keep him with a “clear conscience”.

  12. cooklynn17 says:
    Sep 2, 2014 12:13 PM
    Yeah sure Jim,

    Until that players last name is Kapernick, Crabtree, Willis, Davis, or someone else actually worth a dam.


    The thing is, there are tons of legal ways to pay restitution and not be formally “convicted.” Pay a settlement to the victim, plead no contest, all sorts of legal manuevers.

    Everyone is painting Jim Harbaugh out to be some sort of Saint but he knows if push ever came to shove there would be a legal way to keep the player on the team and still maintain the strict literal truth of Harbaugh’s words…

  13. Whoever threw Patrick Willis’ name in there to make an example should be ashamed. Patrick Willis is one of the best dudes in the NFL.

    I’m proud that Jim did a 180 on his older brother, John.

    Ray McDonald is a huge part of the 49ers defense and losing him would hurt, but they do have good depth along the d-line with guys like Tank Carradine, DeMarcus Dobbs, and Tony Jerod-Eddie.

  14. He’s a whacko, but it seems like he’s prepared to stand by his word.

    As for the GM comments, Baalke can keep him on the team, but Harbaugh can choose not to play him/dress him on Sunday.

  15. BUT….Jim WILL allow you to get popped for multiple DUIs, Get caught at the scene of a DUI passed out in your wrecked car into a tree with the engine revving at a high level because your foot is stepping on the gas as you are passed out with a .15 Blood Alcohol level, caught with weed, pills, host parties where shootings and stabbings occur in yhour home, host party where a woman files a rape complaint, etc, etc,etc

  16. Let us know when those words turn into actions. Harbaugh can say whatever he wants but there’s no way he’s not going to let McDonald play.

    Maybe next offseason, if it’s convenient and they have a replacement, then they won’t play him..

    Short of players being unavailable due to being in jail, the 49ers have shown in the past that he will play.

  17. We need to let this play out. Half the people posting on PFT said Kap was guilty of rape. Right up until it was descovered that the wasn’t even there.

  18. i pity ‘da foo’ who thinks niners return to playoffs. too many stars missing fron lineup and off the field distractions. plus nfc west has gotten better. some think st louis may actually be better off without bradford.

  19. Under this statement, he would have kept Ray Rice on his roster. Rice wasn’t convicted, he got off as a first offender.

    The statement is weak, and so was Rice’s punishment….and I’m a Niners fan.

  20. I think it is almost comical how many people here have no respect for due process, but then gain all the “just hang him” people here have nothing at stake. you guys are idiots if you think Harbaugh would cut one of his main guys if this were to happen. doesn’t happen in regular society, won’t happen in NFL, not with big money guys

  21. What a hypocrite Harbaugh is !!!!!

    Why is Chris Cook on the team if Harbaugh says he won’t keep a player for hitting a woman ????

    You know why …. because Harbaugh is a sleazy liar and his moral integrity blows whichever way the santa clara wind blows !!!

  22. I used to live in a town so small our official motto was “If you don’t hear a new rumor by 10:00 AM it’s your civic duty to start one.” It’s only 9:30 AM here on the left coast, so here’s a new rumor for you. As with all rumors, please treat it like a fact, pass it on to everyone you know, and swear it’s true:

    In terms of aberrant player behavior, the Ravens are out of control and the 49ers aren’t far behind. The same Harbaugh parents who got so much face time when the two teams met in the playoffs are cowering in shame and hiding out in Miami Beach with their lawyers, preparing a press release explaining why they’re disowning both their sons.
    It’s true – I heard it from Chris Carter AND Peter King.

    NFL imbiber oops – sorry, NFL insider Mort Mortensen has been hearing from his ‘sources’ that Jim is about to make a run at John’s job and Schefter believes this statement is his opening move.

    I know – it’s Mort & Adam, but don’t be too sure this isn’t true. Jim is a sleaze of the first magnitude with a serious case of selective morals, but nobody ever said he was stupid. John is a nice guy with (likely) a few less IQ points. And Josina told me they never showered together as kids, so there are definitely some unresolved issues between them.

    I’m just saying’.

  23. mc donald is done in SF. dont matter who it is. if you hit a women, your done in SF . ravens organization could learn from jim harbaugh.

  24. In theory its the right thing to do, but let the process play itself out first. Is Harbaugh trying to take some heat off of his brother, for that whole Rice debacle, of course he is ?

  25. That’s because due process is a pretty comical pretense…..nothing about law is true to form.
    It’s broken…and chances are it always will be to a certain extent.

    But yes….he’ll plead down and Nine fans will be happy.

  26. Love how some of you think due process applies to anything other than the criminal justice system.

    Take the company car, slam 10 beers, hit a tree. Wanna bet you’re fired before your DUI case settles? Companies are under ZERO requirement to wait for the law if they don’t want you for an employee. Being stupid/charged with a crime is NOT a protected class. You CAN and WILL be fired before the criminal court system does its job.

  27. If he has integrity, McDonald is suspended until this “due process” plays out. If he plays this week, Harbaugh is all talk, no action and his players know it!

  28. Harbauh won’t cut Chris Cook, because the niners have a weak secondary.

    Harbaugh is simply a liar.

  29. More power to him and the 49ers.
    And you know what?
    If EVERY team and coach did the same thing with domestic violence AS WELL AS with violation of the drug policy and performance enhancing drugs.. the NFL would not have to be the adjudicators of the penalties.

    If EVERY team and coach could have the integrity to say “we will not have criminals (domestic violence or drug usage) on our teams and cut them if violated.. the NFL would be clear of the problem pretty quickly.

    Unfortunately it would also probably have only about 50% of the current players… 🙁

  30. That’s just more gobble gobble jive turkey gobbler stuff…
    Let’s look at it again when/if a move looks appropriate.
    Then I bet we’ll be hearing about second chances.

  31. I’d love to see McDonald found guilty of this misdemeanor charge and then see how Harbaugh backpedals. The only reason he says “if convicted” is that the team has influence over the Santa Clara D.A.’s office, as evidenced by Aldon Smith being handled with kid gloves. What Harbaugh is really saying is “he won’t be convicted, so I’m good with it”.

  32. Except Ray Rice was NOT FOUND GUILTY.

    Charges were dropped.

    But who cares about facts anymore, lets just spray as many bullets as possible, you’re bound to hit something.

  33. 9ers probably have more players with violence against women issues on the roster than any other team in the league. Perrish Cox, Chris Cook, Carlos Hyde, Eric Wright, to name some. Plus they brought Glenn Winston to the NFL, after he effectively ended the hockey career of A.J. Sturges at Michigan State with a sucker punch which fractured his skull. There wasn’t room in jail for Winston, they let him out, and he did the same thing to another college student at a frat party.

  34. If convicted guilty, Harbaugh must release McDonald because of what he just said. So, he’s just letting the legal process work its course. I’m also saying the players on the 49ers with legal history such as Aldon Smith and Chris Culliver better clean up their act. We’ll see what happens after week 9 if Aldon Smith will be in football shape but will likely be since he’s allowed to travel and work with team. I’m just hoping Aldon Smith don’t turn as bad as Josh Gordon which we luckily didn’t trade for and hoping not to sign if he’s available next year.

  35. Hairball is the most compulsive liar I’ve ever seen! I can’t stand to look at his lying face much less listen to him flap his lying gums! No way he cuts this guy and keeps the rest of his criminals in tact! He’ll keep them all. Biggest liar in the NFL. Both of the Hairball brothers are jokes!

  36. I’m not even a Niners fans but I think that spoiled geek Jed York is crazy for not paying Harbaugh like one of the top coaches in the NFL. First of all he’s DEFINITELY one of the top coaches & second of all he has integrity which the NFL needs more of.

  37. Big niner and Harbaugh hater here. I truly can’t stand this guy. I do totally agree with him on this though. Many things can be forgiven but spousal or child abuse is not one them.

  38. I think a large percentage of the time the NFL should just shut the hell up and let the courts do the job, because that’s what they’re SUPPOSED to do. But you just can’t threaten a billionaire’s power complex that way. Roger Goodell especially should lock his trap shut. He makes more bad decisions than good ones.

  39. Chris Cook wasn’t convicted (he was acquitted), but he still busted his girlfriend’s eardrum. The funny (or sad) part of the story is that his girlfriend got ticked because he spent all night at a strip club, ignored her, and then got in a fight after he came home and saw she had texted an old flame. Cook is a grade A loser.

  40. People are asking why hasn’t Chris Cook or Perrish Cox cut by 49ers because in the past they had an domestic violence in their past. It’s in the past and were under the watch of different organizations that didn’t do anything (Broncos) or (Vikings). These players have not been in trouble since and that was before the new rules of domestic violence. Ray McDonald if found guilty, did it right a few days after it was implemented and when Harbaugh was still coach. I think players do deserve second chances but they should start it with a new franchise. I haven’t heard Chris Cook or Perrish Cox got in trouble recently? If they just recently did it under his watch and under the new rules, they’d be off the team and banned from the NFL because of multiple offenses. If the rule was implemented in the past, I believe Cook, Cox, Rice should be out of the league period. I think some colleges should think of doing this by kicking players off the team instead of just suspending them. Joe Mixon was just involved in domestic abuse, he should’ve been kicked out of college by the University and Bob Stoops.

  41. So you can be ‘above reproach’ as long as you are only arrested and charged but NOT convicted? Jim Harbaugh takes hypocrisy to a whole new level.

  42. I think the point is that if somebody says a player hits a woman they won’t be on “his” team…..

    what difference does it make if it happened a day ago, a week ago, months ago, or years ago.

    When a man hits a woman there is NO time limit for integrity.

    Harbaugh is a hypocrite for saying one thing and then doing the opposite.

  43. “Until that players last name is Kapernick (sic), Crabtree, Willis, Davis, or someone else actually worth a dam (sic).”

    A couple of thoughts here:

    I think Harbaugh is a very good coach, but I would take anything coming out of his mouth with several large grains of salt.

    His contract was just re-structured…Ray McDonald is probably in his last season with the 49ers, regardless of the outcome of this case. He’s over 30, making $6m per year, and Quinton Dial and Tank Carradine have been groomed as the DEs of the future (2015). That plan was already in place before this week’s events, and the legal process will likely not be finished before the end of this season.

    Besides, will Harbaugh himself even be around for the start 2015 season???

    As for the assertion that McDonald isn’t “worth a damn”, that’s way off base. He may not play a glory position or have huge sack numbers, but he has been a very good and versatile every down DL with rare durability (played through a torn bicep last year!)and stamina for the last 7 years, and his role is vital to the success of the 3-4.

    Unless your name is J.J. Watt, 3 and 5 technique ends in a 3-4 don’t generally rack up a lot of stats. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t valuable. The Steelers tried for years to replace Aaron Smith….finally Heyward seems like he might be a solution.

    It’s a hard role to find an every down player for. You usually have to platoon or have a rotation. Guys like McDonald are valuable.

  44. Doing the moral thing is easy when the cost is low.

    I appreciate Harbaugh’s sentiment, but before he’s canonized, let’s see what happens when it costs the team $30m and a star to cut a domestic abuser.

  45. As people with money are rarely “convicted”, Harbaugh knows full well that his statement has no teeth

  46. I agree with Jim 100%.. but this whole story is a bit fishy to me.. he is being charge for striking his gf but the bruising is on her shoulder/neck area..

    I’m not justifying anything here, but I’ve had friends who got in an argument with their gf and the neighbors called the police.. his gf just happened to have a bruise as well and the police arrested my friend even after his GF clearly said that she was not being abuse and that the bruising were from her CF training.. Police didnt want to hear it and they had to pay 5k bail for nothing. She even almost got arrested for going off on the cops after they arrested my buddy.

  47. I’m a Ravens Seasons ticket holder, and have been since the first day! I agree with JIM. You have to allow for due process, and IF found guilty, he should be excluded from team activity the first Day.

  48. Only in America are you guilty before all the evidence is heard…

    None of you have no idea what happened…what if something like this went down…say he saw her drinking alcohol at the party and he asked her to not do it because of the danger to her baby…but an hour later he saw her drinking again. So he grabs her drink and takes it away from her…then she violently starts swinging at him and so he just grabs her wrists and try’s to hold her for a moment until she is under control. He would have been concerned for their unborn child.

    Who knows what happened people, let’s all see how this plays out.

  49. No “conviction” will likely occur for at least a year, as there won’t be a court case any time soon.

    McDonald and the 9er’s can limit the impact of McD’s potential loss to the team by simply delaying the legal process.

    So, I’m anticipating ZERO impact on McDonald’s playing time this season due to his DV arrest….unless of course the 9er’s chose not to allow McD to play ‘as a matter of principle’….and you know that’s not going to happen.

  50. and to those of you suggesting McDonald won’t be convicted because his girlfriend won’t cooperate….


    Prosecutor’s commonly prosecute even after a female flips during the investigative phase. Due to the change in DV Criminal laws in the late 90’s, after OJ, the state, city, county, is empowered to prosecute DV cases in spite of a females reluctance to testify….or don’t take my word for it, try google.

  51. Obviously smashing a beer bottle over a teammates face so you can drive drunk is far less of a concern in SF because it’s easier just to cut the guy if he doesn’t play along. High standards over there- guns, drugs & bar fights, we won’t hold that over your head just don’t touch a woman.

  52. He should cut Chris Cook immediately but I hope he keeps him. He sucked as a Viking and punching his girlfriend for talking on the phone with another guy just goes to show you the what a wimp Cook is.

    If Cook plays, Cook gets burned. If Cook gets burned, the fourty-whiners lose. So I hope he keeps him.

  53. Have any of you guys ever dated a woman? They get away with soooo much stuff that men get condemned for. Ive never hit a woman and ive been hit by everyone ive ever dated. Every single one. Ive been in situations where i know for a fact that a guy didnt hit a girl but she called the cops anyway and he was arrested. Testimony from people who witnessed it didnt matter either. The system is broken, this i know for a fact.

  54. The Santa Clara Criminals (formally known as the SF 49ers) would NEVER release a player because they beat a woman….drive drunk…. shoot fully automatic weapons in a family neighborhood….

    Even if there is video proof that they did the crime.

    Nooooo…. Hairbaugh claims the person has to be “convicted” of the crime – so a quick “plea bargain” or “no contest” plea and they are good to go to be a premier member of the Santa Clara Criminals !!!!

  55. His behavior both personally and dealing with problem players leave him with very little credibility.

    But, please, prove me wrong on this one thing at least. Please.

  56. Hit by every woman you’ve dated? What the hell do you do to get them so angry at you? Or, is this part of your courtship routine?

  57. I blame Ed Hocculi for letting Green Bay’s inferior blockers to strangulate Ray McDonald in the wild card game. Once again, trying to fix a niners playoff.

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