SANTA CLARA, Calif. — Reuben Foster went to work Thursday for the first time in more than a month.
The 49ers’ former first-round pick and would-be starting linebacker had been asked to stay away from San Francisco’s offseason program until now because of the serious allegations, including that he punched his ex-girlfriend, levied against him.
A Santa Clara County Judge, however, dismissed that charge on Wednesday due to insufficient evidence, clearing the way for Foster to return to practice. The session was not open to reporters and the 49ers would not say what Foster was able to do on his first day back. After a month away, the team may want him to work on his conditioning before he resumes practicing.
The judge declined to move the case against Foster to trial based largely on the testimony of Foster’s one-time girlfriend, Elissa Ennis, who recanted her Feb. 11 allegations against Foster two days later. Ennis testified last week that she was furious that Foster was ending their relationship and wanted to ruin his career. She also admitted to stealing clothing, jewelry and more than $8,000 from Foster when she returned home to Louisiana.
Ennis testified against the advice of her attorney, who wanted her to use her Fifth Amendment right to avoid self-incrimination. When asked if Ennis, 28, would be charged, the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s office issued the following statement:
“We don’t charge domestic violence victims who falsely recant. We empathize with them, we support them, and we advocate for them.”
Meanwhile, Foster was welcomed back into the locker room in Santa Clara.
Teammates, including one of the most senior member of the defense, cornerback Richard Sherman, have accompanied him in his recent court hearings and have voiced their support for Foster. He still is facing a misdemeanor marijuana possession charge in Alabama and a misdemeanor gun charge in Santa Clara County, but the allegations that would have ended his tenure with the 49ers have been wiped away.
“Just real excited about the news,” the 49ers’ longest tenured player, Joe Staley, said Wednesday at the team’s state of the franchise event in San Jose. “Obviously, that’s real positive. (I’m) excited to see him come back whenever he comes back to the building, and give him a hug and move forward.
Last year Foster and Brock Coyle ended the season as the 49ers’ starting inside linebackers.
With Foster out and Coyle still recovering from offseason shoulder surgery, Malcolm Smith and newcomer Korey Toomer were in the starting roles this week. The 49ers also have gotten a strong first impression from third-round pick Fred Warner, who has been lining up with the second-team group.
The next 49ers practice that is open to the media is Wednesday.