Newberry arrest Niners latest distraction

You have to go back to a different era to find the last time two 49ers were arrested in the same week. But - while Vinny Sutherland allegedly driving a SUV into a lamppost while legally drunk and then leaving the scene is one thing - Jeremy Newberry getting arrested after allegedly smacking a 23-year-old woman in the face is quite another. Whether or not the battery charges against Newberry are bogus, trouble suddenly is finding the 49ers, and this time it struck them in their core nucleus.

The difference is - while Sutherland apologized for his mistakes afterward and acknowledged he has some alcohol-related problems - Newberry was making assurances afterward he "didn't get near" the woman when the incident occurred and described the charges against him merely a "technicality."

Newberry said Saturday that he was with his family and friends on Friday near a bridge on Lake Berryessa north of San Francisco when his sister, Jennifer Newberry, got involved in an altercation with the 23-year-old San Diego woman, whom Newberry said provoked the incident.

Newberry said that after the woman shoved his sister, Jennifer Newberry hit the woman - who was unknown to the Newberrys and not identified by authorities - with an open hand. According to the Napa County Sheriff's Department, which arrested both Newberry and his sister on battery-related charges, the San Diego woman was taken to a nearby medical facility to receive treatment for injuries to her face, nose, back and arm.

Knowing Newberry, it is difficult to give much credence to the veracity of the charges against him. Newberry, the Pro Bowl center who just received a $20 million contract with a $5 million signing bonus two months ago, knows from experience that others will try to involve him in trouble because of his intimidating presence and celebrity status. Since his father is a retired Antioch policeman, Newberry grew up being taught to avoid trouble.

A week before the season opener last year, two men claimed Newberry was involved in a Sept. 2 brawl at an Antioch bar. Newberry denied any involvement in the fight and, after being interviewed by police, was not charged in connection with the fight. He was charged this time, but says it is a similar type of incident. Newberry said vehemently he would never strike a female.

"My dad would beat me up if I hit a woman," Newberry told Cam Inman of the Contra Costa Times. "I don't get down like that. I didn't get near the broad, so I'm not worried about the legal issue of it."

Nevertheless, after a break for Memorial Day weekend, the Niners will return to business on Wednesday for the opening of a three-day minicamp with another player arrest to talk about and their star center facing the task of explaining his involvement in the incident. That's the kind of distraction they don't need with June just around the corner. They already had it last week.

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