The results on the field haven’t been good in 2014, but interceptions thrown to Richard Sherman seem positively quaint compared to what’s gone on with Ray McDonald this year. A search warrant was served at McDonald’s home — if the walls in that place could talk, we’d want to cover the ears of every child within a 50-mile radius — to investigate rape allegations. McDonald is the alleged suspect.
According to San Jose Police, a possible sexual assault victim was treated at an area hospital on Tuesday morning. She alleged that she was assaulted on Monday. According to sources, the woman who received treatment at the hospital is NOT McDonald’s fiance, who was involved in the domestic violence case from earlier this year that was finalized in November, when the Santa Clara district attorney’s office declined to file charges against McDonald after an investigation that followed his Aug. 31 arrest.
“I have no malice toward anyone,” McDonald said one day after the DA’s decision. “I feel like I’m a good guy, a teddy bear.”
The phrase “due process” was uttered so often in the aftermath of that arrest that it became something of a joke around these parts. It’s tempting to decide that enough is enough, or where there’s smoke there’s fire, and assume guilt in this developing sexual assault case. I’m not going to do that, because McDonald may not be charged in this incident either. We have no way to know exactly what happened on Monday night.
What we do know, is that this has been one awful season for the 49ers. Analysts far too often talk about the adversity teams face in a game or season — what about the adversity faced by 49ers fans in 2014?
It started with NaVorro Bowman’s catastrophic knee injury in Seattle, on a fantastic play he made near the goal-line that the officials botched. That NFC Championship Game somehow featured the most painful ending of any contest since Jim Harbaugh became head coach of the 49ers, an amazing feat considering the Kyle Williams game against the Giants, and the Super Bowl in New Orleans where Harbaugh and Greg Roman put together a goal-line stand against their own offense.
After Sherman tipped Colin Kaepernick’s pass to Malcolm Smith, it seemed unlikely that any team — even a team as tough as the 49ers — could handle that kind of heartbreak for three consecutive years without a step backward. But with a strong core of players, a coach who’d led the team to three straight conference title games and 36 regular season victories, along with reinforcements coming in the form of a bunch of draft picks, anything seemed possible.
Oh, how true that was. The team didn’t just finish out of the playoff picture by mid-December — they lost to the Bears and Raiders, and their quarterback’s confidence dissolved little by little each week.
But that wasn’t all!
- 1/26: Daniel Kilgore, public intoxication (case dismissed)
- 3/28: Chris Culliver, misdemeanor hit and run, felony possession of brass knuckles (pleaded not guilty)
- 4/13: Aldon Smith, saying he had a bomb in LAX (charges not filed)
- 8/31: Ray McDonald, felony domestic violence (charges not filed)
I’d add “TBA: McDonald, felony sexual assault” to the list, but that would go against the due process guidelines set forth by the team earlier in the season. Regardless, the 49ers would probably be forced to vacate several scholarships and take themselves out of bowl contention next year if they were a college team.
15 players on IR, including Patrick Willis, Bowman, their first round pick, three tight ends, their top two nose tackles and starting center. And that doesn’t include guys like Anthony Davis and Tramaine Brock, key players who’ve barely been available all year.
The Field of Jeans
It was supposed to create a home field advantage that Candlestick Park couldn’t match, with fans closer to the field and happier than ever due to the greatness of the on-field product and all of the creature comforts. Instead, the sun coming in from the west sent the fans on the triple-decker side of the stadium scurrying, the turf was an abomination that the grounds crew somehow never fixed, and the 49ers are very much in danger of finishing 3-5 at Levi’s Stadium in its debut season.
The coach’s future
The crazy story about the Browns and 49ers discussing a possible Harbaugh trade — which broke about a month after the NFC Championship Game — kicked things off and prepared us for a year full of rumors and ill will. A full recap of the strife between Harbaugh, Jed York and Trent Baalke probably isn’t needed here, as it would (rightly) be considered overkill. But of all the clouds that have followed this franchise in the last calendar year, the sweatshirt vs. the suits is the darkest.
It’s hard to imagine how this year could have gone worse … the Seahawks could repeat as Super Bowl champions, but that wouldn’t happen until 2015 at the earliest.