CITING A PATTERN of behavior and off-field issues, San Francisco 49ers general manager Trent Baalke informed defensive lineman Ray McDonald that he was released yesterday amid a sexual-assault investigation by San Jose police.
"After the recent allegations concerning Ray McDonald, we as an organization notified him and his agent that he will be terminated, released immediately, effective immediately," Baalke said. "While this organization has a strong belief in due process and has demonstrated that over time, Ray's demonstrated a pattern of poor decision-making that has led to multiple distractions to this organization and this football team that really can no longer be tolerated."
Baalke said CEO Jed York and coach Jim Harbaugh also were involved in the decision. Baalke said the 49ers notified the NFL of the allegations against McDonald, saying: "This is a team decision. This is not a league decision."
San Jose police Sgt. Heather Randol said yesterday that the department is investigating McDonald on suspicion of sexual assault and had searched his San Jose home. Randol said an area hospital notified police late Tuesday night that a woman was seeking treatment.
"The victim alleged she was possibly sexually assaulted a day prior," Randol said. "Based on preliminary investigation, detectives secured a search warrant and served it at the alleged suspect's residence in San Jose."
Randol didn't immediately respond to follow-up questions seeking to clarify the reference to the alleged victim saying she was "possibly" sexually assaulted.
No arrests have been made nor charges filed. NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said the league is "looking into" the case.
This is the second time in recent months that McDonald has been the subject of a police investigation.
Last month, the Santa Clara County district attorney's office announced that it declined to file charges against the defensive lineman in a domestic-violence investigation. He was arrested Aug. 31 while celebrating his then-upcoming 30th birthday at his home.
Following the arrest, York, Baalke and Harbaugh repeatedly said they have zero tolerance for domestic violence. The 49ers stuck by McDonald throughout the investigation, with Harbaugh regularly saying that "due process" would play out. McDonald played despite outside pressure on Harbaugh and the organization to bench him.
Prosecutors cited conflicting versions of what happened, a lack of verifiable eyewitnesses and a lack of cooperation by the alleged victim, McDonald's fiancee, in explaining their decision not to pursue charges in the domestic-violence investigation.
* Dallas running back DeMarco Murray was on the practice field for individual drills less than 2 days after hand surgery. The Cowboys have not ruled Murray out for Sunday's game against Indianapolis. Murray was fitted with a hard plastic shell sewn into the top of the glove on his left hand and was wearing it during the portion of practice that was open to the media. He took several handoffs from backup quarterback Brandon Weeden.
* Multiple reports say the Chicago Bears are benching quarterback Jay Cutler and going with Jimmy Clausen for Sunday's game against Detroit. Clausen, the former Notre Dame star, has appeared in three games this season and attempted nine passes. He was 1-9 in 10 starts as a second-round rookie with Carolina in 2010 before the Panthers drafted Cam Newton.
* San Francisco coach Jim Harbaugh, reportedly offered a 6-year, $49 million contract by Michigan, is "considering it," a source told ESPN.
* San Diego quarterback Philip Rivers didn't practice, although he participated in a morning walkthrough and said he expects to play Saturday against the 49ers as the Chargers (8-6) try to keep their playoff hopes alive. He is listed as having chest and back injuries.
* New York Jets wide receiver Percy Harvin has sat out practice while resting his severely sprained left ankle, which he played through last Sunday. His availability Sunday against New England is uncertain, but he says the ankle feels "a lot better" than it did a week ago. He adds that he hopes to practice today.
* Carolina quarterback Cam Newton returned to practice, 8 days after a horrific-looking automobile accident left him with two fractures in his lower back.