SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) — San Francisco 49ers linebacker Reuben Foster was suspended Tuesday without pay for the first two games of the regular season for violating the NFL’s conduct and substance-abuse policy.
The NFL said Foster will also be fined for violations from a weapons offense and misdemeanor drug charge that were resolved earlier this offseason.
Foster will miss San Francisco’s games against Minnesota and Detroit before being allowed to return on Sept. 17 before the Niners play Kansas City.
“I accept the League’s decision and am sorry that my mistakes have hurt my team,” Foster said in a statement. “I have a responsibility to the 49ers, our fans and our community, and I am committed to learning from this situation and making better choices in the future. The support I have received over the last five months has been humbling, and I do not take it for granted.”
Foster was charged in January in Alabama with second-degree marijuana possession. That charge was eventually dismissed after he completed a first-time offender diversion course.
Foster then faced more serious charges for an incident in California in February. He was initially charged in April with felonies for domestic violence, making criminal threats and weapons possession after being accused of beating up his ex-girlfriend.
A judge ruled there was no probable cause on the first two charges after the ex-girlfriend recanted the allegations and the judge found no other evidence to support the charges. The weapons charge was reduced to a misdemeanor and Foster pleaded no-contest to that in June.
He was sentenced to two years’ probation, 232 hours of community service, and $235 in fines. He will not be allowed to own guns while he’s on probation.
The 49ers initially told Foster to stay away from the offseason program after the felony charges were filed in the domestic violence case before welcoming him back after that was resolved in May.
“Our organization understands and supports the League’s decision,” general manager John Lynch said. “Although we are disappointed that Reuben will not be with our team for the first two games of the season, we will continue to work with him on making better decisions and eliminating unnecessary distractions. We are encouraged to see Reuben take responsibility for his mistakes, and hopeful that he has learned from them as well.”
The 49ers drafted Foster 31st overall last year after questions about his health and character caused him to drop from being a possible top 10 pick.
Foster delivered on the field, ranking second on the team with 72 tackles in 10 games as a rookie and looking like a key part of San Francisco’s defensive future.
By JOSH DUBOW
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