The San Francisco 49ers’ defense has already suffered a few serious losses due to injury just five weeks into the season. When defensive end Ray McDonald left the game against the Houston Texans in the third quarter with a right-biceps injury, 49ers’ fans held their breath hoping that their defense had not suffered yet another devastating blow. However, head coach Jim Harbaugh believes the team “dodged
a bullet’ with news that McDonald’s MRI on his bicep came out fine. One of the unsung heroes for the perpetually solid 49ers defense, McDonald’s loss would have been huge for this battered unit.
Selected in the third round of the 2007 draft by the 49ers, the 6’3”, 290-pound McDonald was team captain of the Florida Gators team that beat Ohio State in the 2007 BCS National Championship game. As a Gator, McDonald started 36 of 46 games and accrued 137 combined tackles and 11 sacks, playing both as defensive end and nose tackle. In 2005, he played only 8 games after suffering a partially torn ACL. He returned with a vengeance in 2006, recording 36 tackles and 3 sacks. McDonald also returned a fumble recovery for a score, blocked a kick and batted down five passes.
Since joining the 49ers, McDonald has been one of the most durable and reliable members of the defense. Sharing the line with Pro Bowler Justin Smith, McDonald does not often find himself in the spotlight. But through his 6-year NFL career, he has accrued 154 tackles and 14.5 sacks, along
with 3 forced fumbles, 3 fumble recoveries, one interception, and one touchdown. In 2011, McDonald’s best season with the 49ers, he recorded 39 tackles, 5.5 sacks, 2 forced fumbles, and one fumble recovery and was a Pro Bowl alternate. This season, he has accrued 20 tackles and 1.5 sacks.
While McDonald’s playing status for Sunday’s game against the Arizona Cardinals is uncertain, 49ers’ fans can breathe a sigh of relief that this is one player at least who should not miss a significant period of time.