The season is shaping up to be a rough one for Jim Harbaugh and the San Francisco 49ers. Throughout the preseason, their offense looked shaky, but the real problems lie with their defense. NaVorro Bowman is still out with a knee injury and Glenn Dorsey of the defensive line is out with a torn bicep. Aside from injuries, Aldon Smith was given a nine-game suspension for his incident earlier this year.
Another problem has just come out of the woodwork, as defensive end Ray McDonald has reportedly been arrested for felony domestic violence. Commissioner Roger Goodell has stated that, in the wake of the Ray Rice incident, he will be cracking down on issues of spousal abuse and domestic violence.
McDonald has been on the 49ers’ defensive line since 2007, producing tackle totals in the 30s for the last three years and 16.5 career sacks. He is by no means a Pro Bowl caliber defensive end, but his numbers have been significant and he was an important player during their run to the Super Bowl in 2012.
At this point, Bowman remains on the “physically unable to perform list”. Dorsey is not suspected to get back on the field until late in the season. Smith, as previously stated, will be missing the first nine games of the season. If Commissioner Goodell chooses to make an example of McDonald, it could spell disaster for the 49ers at the start of the season. They are already missing three prominent members of their defense, and losing McDonald would be a major blow to their already-limited depth on the defensive line.
While it remains unconfirmed, some have alleged that the victim in this domestic violence incident is pregnant. If this is the case, McDonald will face a far more significant penalty for his actions.
Obviously nothing has been finalized, but after Roger Goodell received so much criticism for his handling of the Rice spousal abuse case, expect a more significant response, depending on the details of McDonald’s arrest. This type of offense should be treated far more seriously than drug charges and even incidents like Smith’s airport behavior. While getting caught with pot (for example) and belligerent actions in airports are obviously not welcomed, hitting a woman is a whole new ball game.