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Kurtenbach: The 49ers were right to stand by Reuben Foster and I was wrong to say they should have cut him

I was wrong.
I gave far too much credit to those who proved they didn’t deserve it.
And do I regret doing that? Of course I do.
If you want to bash me, feel free — I earned that.
But whatever you do, don’t celebrate Reuben Foster’s domestic violence charges being thrown out by a Santa Clara County judge Wednesday.
Foster has the right to celebrate, as Wednesday confirmed what we all had figured a week ago when evidence and testimony was put in front of the court: that this was a baseless case that should have never escalated to the level it did. And the 49ers can pump a fist that they will likely have their starting linebacker back in camp.
But a cacophony of righteous indignation implies only that people knew Foster was innocent all along. To claim that now is revisionist history. No one foresaw Foster’s accuser testifying against the advice of her attorney and recanting everything — and then some — last week.
After that happened, Judge Nona Klippen had almost no choice but to drop the domestic violence charges levied against Foster.
Was justice served? It’s hard to say it wasn’t.
But it’s obvious now, that it should have never been on the menu.
San Francisco 49ers linebacker Reuben Foster, right, and his attorney Joshua Bentley, left, walk to the Santa Clara Hall of Justice for Foster’s preliminary hearing on his domestic-violence case in San Jose, California, on Thursday, May 17, 2018. (LiPo Ching/Bay Area News Group) 
The deeper this case went, the more obvious it became that the Santa Clara County District Attorney did not have a case. Prosecutor Kevin Smith wasted Foster’s and the taxpayers’ money for reasons he refused to explain after Wednesday’s ruling.
I never claimed that Foster was guilty or innocent in this case, but this case ultimately boiled down to a two-option bet.
Did you believe the DA’s office —which despite Foster’s accuser’s recanting two days after his arrest, pushed forward with the case, going as far as the levy charges on the linebacker — or did you believe Foster?
The 49ers picked Foster. They believed his story from the start and stuck with him, even after he was charged by the DA.
I picked the DA — believing the office’s claim it would to push forward without the cooperation of the accuser was an indication it had ace-in-the-hole evidence.
When I wrote that the 49ers should cut Foster, I wrote that “I’ve covered enough cases like this to know that prosecutors don’t bring charges unless they are 100 percent convinced they can land a conviction.”
I seriously wish that I had written “competent prosecutors.”
Becuase these prosecutors proved themselves to be anything but competent. Judge Klippen said as much in her ruling Wednesday — there was no evidence, circumstance, or reason to bring charges in this case.
I’ll stand accountable for my bet, but the District Attorney needs to be held accountable in this situation as well.
San Francisco 49ers linebacker Reuben Foster, center, is led to his car by his attorney Joshua Bentley, left, after leaving the Santa Clara Hall of Justice after his preliminary hearing on his domestic-violence case in San Jose, California, on Thursday, May 17, 2018. (LiPo Ching/Bay Area News Group) 
After five-plus weeks away from the team, Foster will likely rejoin the 49ers Thursday.
“The organization is aware domestic violence charges against Reuben Foster were dismissed earlier today,” the team said in a press release Wednesday. “As a result, he will have the opportunity to rejoin the team tomorrow. It has been made clear to Reuben that his place on this team is one that must continue to be earned.”
Which means that it’s now the NFL’s turn to levy judgment.  But even after today’s ruling, no one knows where the commissioner’s arbitrary Wheel of Punishment will land when it comes to a possible suspension in the 2018 regular season.
Foster could land a six-game suspension from the league or receive no punishment. Total crapshoot. Either way, the NFL long ago lost any credibility in matters like this. No matter what it decides, it will have no ties to the truth of this matter.
The truth of the matter — the main takeaway I have from all of this — is that football and morality don’t mix, and trying to make that happen will only make one look like a fool.
After all, there’s something intrinsically immoral about a game as violent as football and a corporation as craven as the NFL. How on earth could anyone hold the 49ers (or any other NFL team, for that matter) to a high moral standard?
For the record, I didn’t do that. I merely claimed that the 49ers should uphold their own standard.
The team’s new regime of John Lynch and Kyle Shanahan set a precedent last year by
cutting Tremaine Brock a day after he was accused of domestic violence.
I made the mistake of taking Lynch and Shanahan seriously when they tossed around heavy rhetoric following the Brock case. I won’t hold it against them — their job is to win football games and Foster can help the team do that — but I won’t make that mistake again, either.
The Foster case proved their rhetoric was empty. I cannot speak to Brock’s guilt or innocence, but he was never charged by the Santa Clara County District Attorney nor was he suspended by the NFL.
Foster was charged — whether the charges were baseless or not, that happened — but because he was more talented than Brock — by a longshot — the 49ers opted to stand by him and wait and see.
Again, they bet on Foster, and the bet paid off.
San Francisco 49ers’ linebacker Reuben Foster, left, and his attorney Joshua Bentley, right, come out of a SUV and walk into the Hall of Justice in San Jose, Calif., on Wednesday, May 23, 2018. A judge dismissed domestic violence charges against Foster and downgraded an assault rifle charge to a misdemeanor on Wednesday. (Randy Vazquez/ Bay Area News Group) 
If you want to give the 49ers credit for doing that, feel free — but be honest as to your rationale. Don’t claim that it was out of a duty to due diligence or a sense of justice — just admit that you’re happy that the 49ers were able to retain a valuable asset.
There’s nothing wrong with that, by the way.
What I won’t forget or forgive is the 49ers trying to move the goalposts when they opted to stand by Foster, diving deep into the margins to justify the hypocrisy of sticking by him but not letting Brock’s legal process play out. “Every case is different” is a true statement, but they might as well have said “every player is different” — it would have been closer to the truth.
Had the 49ers upheld the standard they set with the Brock case, they’d have cut Foster, and given today’s news, it’s clear that he would have been A-OK. After today’s ruling, the linebacker likely would have had a bunch of contract offers on his agent’s desk right now. Hell, he might have signed a larger deal after all of this.
After all, he’s really, really good.
That is the truth at the heart of the 49ers’ calculation on all of this.
And again, there’s no problem with the 49ers putting asset retention above everything else. The NFL is a cold, ruthless business.
Just don’t pretend that it’s not.

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