A San Francisco 49ers defense already reeling from offseason departures suffered another blow to its image on Wednesday with outside linebacker Ahmad Brooks being charged with misdemeanor sexual battery.
The charge comes in relation to a December incident at former 49ers defensive lineman Ray McDonald’s house. McDonald was indicted on one count of rape of an intoxicated person.
Brooks was sent home from Colorado, where the 49ers are taking part in joint practices with the Denver Broncos, and he will not take part in Saturday night’s exhibition game.
From a football standpoint, Brooks being charged begs the question: Will he be released?
In cutting McDonald in December, 49ers general manager Trent Baalke cited a pattern of “poor decision-making” by McDonald. You could easily make the same case against Brooks.
While the possibility of Brooks facing charges from the alleged incident has surrounded him since May -- a civil suit was filed then by the woman who accused Brooks of groping her "in a sexual manner" while she was unconscious -- it is now reality.
Plus, Brooks has a history.
He was cited in a police report for hitting a then-teammate over the head with a beer bottle and punching him in the face in 2013, though charges were never filed.
Last year, he was benched in a game for arguing with coach Jim Tomsula, then the team’s defensive line coach, and was suspended for another after missing a team meeting.
He seemed a prime candidate to join the likes of McDonald, Justin Smith (retired), linebackers Patrick Willis (retired), Chris Borland (retired) and Dan Skuta (free agency) and cornerbacks Perrish Cox (free agency) and Chris Culliver (free agency) as former 49ers.
This was before linebacker Aldon Smith was cut less than three weeks ago after his fifth arrest since 2011, his third involving DUI.
Sans Brooks, who could face up to six months in jail, the 49ers have one defensive starter remaining from their Super Bowl team of three seasons ago, inside linebacker NaVorro Bowman. And he is returning from a devastating left knee injury that kept him sidelined all of last season.
Brooks seemed refocused in training camp, though, and had recently been switched to the right side, Smith’s old pass-rushing spot, and seemed a good fit.
Not exactly a fearsome foursome in relation to what the Niners had at their disposal recently.