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Ray McDonald Comes Into His Own

Posted by Jacob Most on August 3, 2012 – 5:55 PM

Defense has dominated the past two days at 49ers Training Camp presented by HP. Defensive lineman Ray McDonald has been a major contributor to that dominance.

In the early part of camp, McDonald has not missed a step entering his sixth season on the 49ers defensive line. It’s not hard to notice, even Alex Smith noted the defensive line’s effectiveness when he met with the media Friday afternoon.

“They are a fun group,” the 49ers quarterback said. “It is infections. Ray is a big part of that. He is really coming into his own as a teammate and a leader.”

The 6-foot-3, 290-pounder is coming off a breakout season in which he registered career highs in three categories with 93 tackles, 5.5 sacks and two forced fumbles.

“For the past four years I was a situational player and then they gave me a chance to go in and start,” McDonald said. “I wanted to take advantage of my opportunity . . . I wanted to make the most of it. I did that last year so I am just trying to build off of that.”

The Pahokee, Fla., native who now lives permanently in the Bay Area, continued to improve into the playoffs last season contributing 2.5 sacks in the NFC Championship Game. McDonald’s 2.5-sack performance tied him for the second-most sacks by a 49ers player in a postseason game.

McDonald has attributed his recent on-field success to improved preparation off the field, a characteristic certainly noticed by Jim Harbaugh.

“Not only knowing my assignments, but knowing the assignment of the guys around me makes the game a lot easier,” McDonald said.

McDonald has forged a formidable partnership alongside fellow lineman Justin Smith as the book ends of San Francisco’s three-man defensive front. Their chemistry was evident in Friday’s practice as Smith, an All-Pro defensive tackle, returned to the field after getting a veteran’s day off on Thursday.

With the defense’s starting lineup back together, the unit continued to spoil the production of the 49ers offense.

“Playing with Justin Smith the past few years has really been a blessing,” McDonald said. “He has shown me how to be a professional, how to be a student of the game, how to train and how to live right day-by-day.”

Harbaugh echoed McDonald’s praise of Smith, a Pro Bowler in each of the past three seasons.

“Justin Smith is a great player,” the 49ers coach said. “He plays like a man fighting to make the roster … I am glad we have him on the team because I know 31 other teams would like to have him.”

Harbaugh is more than thankful to have Smith and McDonald on his side.

“The defense looked dominant in every which way today,” Harbaugh said. “They are playing together at a high level. There is no doubt the defense got the best of (the offense) today.”

So through seven practice sessions thus far in training camp, the defense has seized the attention largely thanks to the work in the trenches from players like McDonald and Smith.

“Training camps are training camps,” said McDonald, spoken like a true veteran. “We are just trying to get better every day and become a team by the first game.”

Game Rewind: San Francisco 49ers

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Posted in Announcements | 6 Comments »

6 Responses to “Ray McDonald Comes Into His Own”

  1. By cutitoff on Aug 3, 2012 | Reply

    I was Leary of Ray taking over last year as a starter. Felt his main move was just a bull rush. He surprised me with his play. Glad he has learned from Smith. It seems Smiths attitude, intensity and work ethic has been a guiding force for the D line

  2. By John on Aug 4, 2012 | Reply

    I am so blessed to have grown up in the Bay Area and been a 49er fan. There are no better group of guys like this team has today. Let’s finish.

  3. By tom in Nj on Aug 4, 2012 | Reply

    I remember in the early 90’s players wanted to play for us and for less money. Everone wanted to play with our team. Our depth was good too. Our 2nds and 3rds were problably starters for other clubs. We’re almost at that point again! It’s amazing how our team is different after 1 year, with a few additions last year look how we turned it around! Players on the d line are listening to Justin Smith, I think he is our MVP. I can’t forget about “WOO HIT” WHITNER either! We are again getting to the point were our team is making each other better. In the 90’s our offense made our defense better and now our defense is going to make our offense better! GO NINERS! EVERY PLAY EVERY DAY!

  4. By layzie16 on Aug 4, 2012 | Reply

    this truely is the FORTY NINER WAY

  5. By ace on Aug 4, 2012 | Reply

    i agree with tom when he says that players used to want to play for this team, which we havent seen in a while it feels good to see veterns want to come here now, shows you how much we have changed to believe in ourselves once again thank you ray macdonald goo niners !!!!

  6. By Danny Azarnejad on Aug 6, 2012 | Reply

    Keep up the good writing Jake, avid Niners fan from NY!

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