Center Jonathan Goodwin said he knows one thing going into the 49ers' NFC divisional playoff game Saturday: Even though the Saints are traveling to the West Coast and will face one of the league's top defenses, they won't lack confidence.
And Goodwin should know; he started every game for New Orleans in its run to the Super Bowl title in the 2009 season.
"I know that's a very confident team, and they definitely deserve to be," Goodwin said Thursday. "We were confident when I was there, and they're a 13-3 (regular-season) team that's playing well. But we should be confident in ourselves, go out and see if we can execute our game plan better."
Goodwin, who spent five seasons with the Saints before signing with the 49ers before this season, has helped stabilize the offensive line and was named a Pro Bowl alternate.
On Thursday, coach Jim Harbaugh called Goodwin "a block of granite up there for us."
Goodwin also is one of 11 players on the 49ers' roster with playoff experience, though just four are starters.
Comparing that to the Saints' postseason experience has been a hot topic this week, though both teams have played down any significance.
"We've got guys that have never been there before, that's for sure, but maybe that's a good thing," Harbaugh said. "It's like kids who haven't played a game in a long time. They're excited to do it."
Tight end Vernon Davis said Goodwin has been roaming the locker room this week parsing out insights on the Saints and playoff atmosphere.
"My advice this week has pretty much been first series or so it might feel a little different," Goodwin said. "But once you get out there and get a couple plays in, hit somebody, it all becomes football again."
McDonald in Defensive end Ray McDonald said he "should be ready to go" for Saturday's game. McDonald, who has been battling a right hamstring strain and was limited again in practice Thursday, said the 49ers' playoff bye helped "tremendously" in his recovery.
The bye week and the home game resulted from the 49ers aggressively pursuing the NFC's No. 2 seed, and McDonald said there already have been rewards.
"You don't have to fly, so you can get a lot more work in during the week," he said. "We're grateful for that."
Walker out Tight end Delanie Walker (jaw) is not expected to play against the Saints, Harbaugh said.
Walker was the only 49ers player who did not participate in Thursday's practice, the team reported. McDonald, cornerback Chris Culliver (knee) and wide receivers Ted Ginn (ankle) and Kyle Williams (concussion) were limited.
Ginn, one of the 49ers who has been to the playoffs, said he feels "great" and should be ready Saturday.
Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma (knee) did not practice Thursday, while safety Roman Harper (ankle) was limited. On Wednesday, it was the opposite Harper didn't practice and Vilma was limited.