SANTA CLARA — That was a very, very tense media session with Jim Harbaugh just now, of course related to the tensions arising inside and outside the 49ers organization after Ray McDonald's domestic-abuse arrest on early Sunday morning.

This was the first time Harbaugh faced reporters on the issue, but he reiterated what he said on his radio show a few days ago: The 49ers do not tolerate domestic violence but they also believe in due process and that means no decision on McDonald until more facts are unearthed.

Harbaugh at one point wanted to make this a bit of a legal seminar — a very heated legal seminar — and asked if anybody in the room was against due process. Nobody raised their hand.

But this isn't about the legal definition of due process. Nobody credible is saying McDonald should go to jail immediately or even be released by the 49ers without further information.

The point is: If you are a team with no tolerance for domestic abuse, why not announce that McDonald will not be playing Sunday's game ... while you gather the evidence?

Harbaugh was having none of that. He didn't do a full-throated defense of McDonald, but Harbaugh also was not going to budge from the principle that the 49ers are just like a court of law and need to be patient through the process.

I disagree. Most of you might disagree with me. So it goes.

Steve Corkran and I did this transcription of the first part of Harbaugh's presser, all relating to the McDonald situation.


--JIM HARBAUGH partial transcript/

-Q: Has a decision been made whether Ray McDonald will play on Sunday?


-Q: For you, what goes into this decision? What are the factors that determine this?

-HARBAUGH: Facts. Information.

-Q: Are you actively investigating this? Listening? What's your involvement?

-HARBAUGH: I wouldn't concentrate on who. What who is doing or who's making the decision.

It's what's going to make the decision. And that's information and fact.

-Q: Is McDonald preparing as if he'll play Sunday?

-HARBAUGH: He is practicing.

-Q: Based on your stated views, strong views on domestic violence, is there any hesitancy on your part to have him in the building and preparing to play?

-HARBAUGH: Well, there's two very strong principles in play. No. 1 is we will not tolerate domestic violence. And the second principle is the respect for due process.

-Q: Due process can take a while. Based on your conversations with Ray and what the team has learned in its investigation, are you comfortable if he plays Sunday?

-HARBAUGH: It's something we all know. We all live in America, we all understand that sometimes patience is required when it comes to due process.

But I think we all owe that--we all owe that to everybody that's involved. There's a respect for due process in my opinion.

-Q: Due process is a legal term. Probably everybody here if we'd been arrested we'd have been suspended awaiting the legal outcome. You don't think it's prudent to sit him until you have all the facts?

-HARBAUGH: As we have said, I mean, you want me to say it in a different way. This is America, you're innocent until you're proven guilty. I don't know what more I can say about that. I have great respect for that principle.

-Q: So he must be guilty before you do anything?

-HARBAUGH: It'll be based on information and the facts.

-Q: In your meetings with Ray the past few days, assuming you've had them, what kind of sense do you get about his mindset and what he told you?

-HARBAUGH: We can talk about that. We can talk about what those conversations have been. We can talk about where our relationship has been.

I've known him for three years... How relevant is that? The decision you've asked about is based on information and fact.

-Q: It's very relevant because you can look at him eye to eye and get a sense of where he's coming from.

-HARBAGH: Yeah, as I said... I mean, I've known him for three years. I've had many conversations. Those... if anything I could say, would be positive.

But what I'm saying is we owe to everyone involved a respect for due process. So...

-Q: Are you waiting for the district attorney to either file charges or not?

-HARBAGH: Waiting for information and fact.

-Q: If he had told you he had done this, is it safe to say he would not be playing?

-HARBAUGH: This is a legal matter. And you know my position and that is that everyone involved needs for due process to take place.

-Q: Just to clarify, have you told players in the past that 'if you put a hand on a woman you're going to be a 49er any more.' Have you told them that?

-HARBAUGH: You have to... you don't have to rely on any source. What I've said to my team I'm on record very clearly with how I feel about the subject of domestic violence.

-Q: What was McDonald's demeanor at practice yesterday? Did it affect the way the players approached practice?

-HARBAUGH: There's probably a lot of questions we could answer. A lot that we could ask. I feel like I've answered as much as I think it needs to be answered on the subject.

It's a legal matter. Remember that please. Remember this is a legal matter.

-Q: How do you move forward in this season--this is probably embarrassing going into Week 1--how do you get your players ready?

-HARBAUGH: You use that word. I use... I take it personally with our football team and take on great responsibility. And will continue to emphasize the things that... what I think is good for our team and will continue to do that and look and continue to search for better ways to do that. I feel that's my responsibility.

-Q: How do you get the message across to your players that there's something wrong going on here and how much responsibility do you take?

-HARBAUGH: I take full responsibility, the greatest share of responsibility in that respect. That's my responsibility as a head football coach. We continue to do our very best.

I'm speaking for myself, I'm speaking for our coaches, I'm speaking for our organization. That is our job, it is our responsibility, and we do our very best, as we have done. Our best needs to be better.

-Q: How do you balance taking players with risky backgrounds?

-HARBAUGH: We continue to point out self motivation. That is the only lasting thing. We continue to do a good job, take our responsibilities and do a better job. I've exhausted the subject.

-Q: Will it be your decision, Trent's or Jed's on whether McDonald plays Sunday?

-HARBAUGH: Again, I see where you're focused on the who is making the decision. I feel like I explained this; the important thing here is what's going to make the decision. That will be based on information, it will be based on facts.

-Q: But someone is going to have to make the decision, decide where the preponderance of information is, correct?

-HARBAUGH: In my opinion, it's what information that there is. You've asked that question, I answered it.

-Q: Might some information come forth before the game?

-HARBAUGH: Once you get fact, once you get information, then you're going to be in a better time and a better place to make a decision. Or to make judgments.

-Q: Do you think you will get that information before Sunday's game?

-HARBAUGH: I don't know. I don't know. I'm not here to tell you exactly what happened because I don't know.

-Q: But you don't expect to have that information by Sunday?

-HARBAUGH: I don't know that.

-Q: If McDonald plays Sunday, does that mean someone within the organization uncovered some pertinent information?

-HARBAUGH: Again, I'm going to reiterate, this is a legal matter. There is a principle at stake—you seem to keep questioning that. You have a lot of follow-up questions on a very fundamental principle that could indeed require patience.

I mean, I see a lot of polls. Should this or should not? Or this or that? I see a lot of polls. We can have an informal poll right now. Raise your hand if you are not in favor of due process.

(Pauses, looks around, nobody raises their hand.)

Not one hand.

-Q: Define due process.

-HARBAUGH: It's in the Constitution. I've taken as many questions on this as I'm going to take. It's in the Constitution. Fifth Amendment.

-Q: You're not putting him in jail. The Constitution is about putting somebody in jail, not whether he plays football or not.

-HARBAUGH: Man or a woman is not to be punished before due process occurs.

I've taken as many questions as I'm going to take on that subject.

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