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July 22, 2013
Harbaugh no-comments his way through touchy questions on Wright, Brooks


The curious case of Eric Wright came to a sudden end Monday when the cornerback failed his physical with the 49ers, rendering null and void a trade with Tampa Bay three days earlier. The 49ers had agreed to send a late-round draft pick in 2014 to the Buccaneers for the troubled cornerback pending a physical. The trade was conditional, meaning that if Wright, 27, did not make the 53-man squad the 49ers would not owe the Buccaneers anything.

The failed physical sent Wright back to the Buccaneers, who promptly released him. Wright is now a free agent.

The sequence re-raised suspicions that the 49ers were not aware of Wright's recent suspicion-of-DUI arrest in Los Angeles before agreeing to the trade. Wright was pulled over on July 12, about a year after another DUI arrest in Los Angeles. He was never charged in the 2012 case and has not yet been charged in this one, either. News of Wright's July 12 arrest was not made public until after the trade was made.

Jim Harbaugh was characteristically closed-lipped on the matter on Monday. Asked if he knew about Wright's DUI arrest, the 49ers coach referred questions to general manager Trent Baalke. "He's got a clearer understanding of the specific transaction," Harbaugh said. "So I'll defer to him on that."

Baalke, through the team's public relations director, declined comment.

When minicamp ended last month, Harbaugh warned players about appearing in police blotters during the seven weeks before training camp. Wright's acquisition seemed to undermine that message.

The cornerback has had other infractions. He was suspended for four games last season for violating the league's performance-enhancing drug policy. Wright later said he tested positive for Adderall.

In 2005 Wright transferred from USC to UNLV after he was investigated for suspicion of rape. No charges were filed in that case.

Harbaugh also had no comment about the ugly off-field incident involving starting linebacker Ahmad Brooks. The Santa Clara County District Attorney spent more than a month investigating a case in which Brooks on June 8 allegedly struck teammate Lamar Divens in the head three times with a beer bottle. Divens required stitches.

The district attorney ultimately dropped the case because it felt a jury would not convict Brooks. That's partially because Divens demanded $1 million from Brooks in exchange for not pressing charges, the district attorney said.

Brooks, however, still could be disciplined by the NFL, which is reviewing the case, or by the 49ers. Asked about possible punishment, Harbaugh said, "Had conversations, but not that we're going to talk about here."

Brooks is scheduled to report to training camp with the rest of the veterans on Wednesday. If he does miss time this season, his starting spot likely would be filled by Parys Haralson, who is healthy again after missing the 2012 season with a torn triceps.

-- Matt Barrows


Matt was born in Blacksburg, Va., and attended the University of Virginia. He graduated in 1995, went to Northwestern for a journalism degree a year later, and got his first job at a South Carolina daily in 1997. He joined The Bee as a Metro reporter in 1999 and started covering the 49ers in 2003. His favorite player of all time is Darrell Green.


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