49ers Blog and Q&A

News, notes and reader questions about the San Francisco 49ers

August 24, 2009
McDonald to rejoin team this afternoon

The 49ers will add another defensive lineman to the mix when Ray McDonald rejoins the team this afternoon after coming off the physically unable to perform list this morning. McDonald entered the league two years ago with questions about his ACL and that same ACL had to be operated on early this offseason. McDonald did not take part in any of the offseason practices, and at one point there was a concern he'd still be on the PUP when the regular season began, thus forcing him to sit out the first six weeks. The 49ers don't have to release anyone to make room. As it stands, they have 80 players plus Michael Crabtree, who, in case you were wondering, has yet to sign his contract.

McDonald's return, however, does create a bit of a logjam on the defensive line. The starters have been LDE Isaac Sopoaga, NT Aubrayo Franklin and RDE Justin Smith. Behind them are Kentwan Balmer, Sopoaga (at NT) and Demetric Evans. The team also has good-looking rookie Ricky Jean-Francois, who has played all three positions at some point. It's not known how McDonald will be worked in, but he was Smith's top back up at right defensive end last year.

Not only does Glen Coffee lead all rushers in the preseason with 196 yards, but Kory Sheets is fifth on the list with 102 yards in two games. The 49ers are averaging a league-best 205.5 yards a game on the ground, 36.5 more than the second-place Packers. The flip side? The 49ers' leading receiver in the preseason, Vernon Davis, ranks 57th in the NFL through two games. No wonder Mike Singletary is having a hard time deciding on a starting quarterback. He doesn't have a lot of in-game data to help him make his decision.

Defense also is a mixed bag. The 49ers are ninth in total defense and they rank second with six interceptions. But they are tied for last in sacks (1) with Dallas, Jacksonville and San Diego. Considering the nature of the 49ers' lone sack -- JaMarcus Russell tripping over a blade of grass -- let's just rank San Francisco 32 in this category.

-- Matt Barrows

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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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