49ers releasing linebacker Reuben Foster following domestic violence arrest in Tampa

49ers linebacker Reuben Foster's Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office booking photo.
49ers linebacker Reuben Foster's Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office booking photo.
Published November 25 2018
Updated November 25 2018

TAMPA — Less than five hours before they played the Bucs on Sunday, the 49ers said they were releasing linebacker Reuben Foster after his arrest on a domestic violence charge at the team hotel.

Foster, 24, was arrested at 9:10 p.m. Saturday at the Grand Hyatt Tampa Bay, 2900 Bayport Drive, and charged with misdemeanor domestic violence, according to a Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office arrest report. He was booked into the Hillsborough County Jail at 11:11 p.m. and was released Sunday morning after posting a $2,000 bond.
The woman involved in the incident is the same one who accused Foster of domestic violence earlier this year, the report says. Elissa Ennis later recanted those allegations in May at the preliminary hearing, saying she lied repeatedly in a “money scheme.” Those charges were dropped May 23 because of a lack of evidence. San Francisco general manager John Lynch said at the time that “it has been made clear to Reuben that his place on this team is one that must continue to be earned.”

In Saturday's incident, Ennis said that during a verbal altercation with Foster, he "slapped her phone out of her hand, pushed her in the chest area and slapped her with an open hand on the left side of the face," according to Tampa Police Department spokeswoman Janelle McGregor.

Officers observed a 1-inch scratch on Ennis' left collarbone, police said. Investigators learned that Foster and Ennis lived together in the past and had been involved in an on-again, off-again relationship over the past three years, police said.

Foster was the 49ers' first-round pick last year, No. 31 overall, out of Alabama. In February, he was charged with felony domestic violence against Ennis in California. The charge was dropped, along with a felony weapons violation that was reduced to a misdemeanor. He was also arrested on a marijuana possession in Alabama in January.

As a result of those arrests, Foster was suspended for the first two games this season for violating the league's personal conduct and substance abuse policy.

San Francisco coach Mike Shanahan said the decision to release Foster was made "right away when it happened."

"I knew what we have told Reuben, and he didn't do what we asked him to do, so as soon as he did that, I knew the decision that was going to be made, it was just when," Shanahan said after Sunday's 27-9 loss to the Bucs.

"I care about Reuben, but no one is more important than this team. Our No. 1 rule is that you've got to protect the team, and he's put us in a bad light too much. Hopefully this will fix him and he can still be successful somewhere else."

Veteran cornerback Richard Sherman agreed with the team's decision.

"It's what they had to do," he said. "I think the organization has handled the situation as best they could. Obviously, been patient and deliberate and understanding of who Reuben is and what kind of heart he has, but it's just a really compromising situation for the team, repeatedly, so you understand the decision the organization has to make after repeated offenses."

Contact Eduardo A. Encina at [email protected] Follow @EddieInTheYard.