The NFL, for neither obvious nor obvious reasons, chose not to place 49ers linebacker Reuben Foster on the Commissioner's exempt list after the first round of 2017 was charged with three felonies for alleged incident of domestic violence. The 49ers have decided to handle the situation on their own.
"Reuben Foster will not participate in the team's activities as it is addressing its legal issues," the 49ers said in a joint statement by CEO Jed. York, GM John Lynch, and coach Kyle Shanahan. "As stated above, your future with the team will be determined by the information revealed during the legal process."
Since the wheels of justice can often move slowly, this could mean that Foster will miss the offseason program, training camp, preseason and all or part of the regular season, if "attending to his legal matters "means" until the legal situation is resolved ".
It's not clear why the 49ers keep Foster's future in the legal process; all the teams (and the league itself) have the ability to investigate situations like this and reach their own conclusions independently of the decisions taken by the criminal justice system. In fact, the NFL decided after the debacle of Ray Rice to stop relying on the authorities when deciding what to do with a player who allegedly committed a misconduct off the field.
For Foster, the simple reality is that if he were a marginal player, he would have been cut. His status as a first player who played well as a rookie has brought him some time and a little bit of the benefit of the doubt. Sunday's play allows the 49ers to avoid the consequences P.R. to allow Foster to participate in the off-season program (and probably beyond) while the matter is pending.
The 49ers probably lack the authority to make this move, without Foster's consent. It is possible, if Foster did not consent to the decision, that Foster will reject the effort to keep him out of the building. However, if you push too hard, the 49ers could simply do what they would have done if you were not considered a good player: Release them.