San Francisco 49ers

49ers expect McDonald to play in Sunday’s opener vs. Dallas

Echoing what he said nearly a year ago after Aldon Smith’s DUI arrest, Jim Harbaugh on Friday said Ray McDonald would travel with the team to Dallas and play in the game Sunday.

“Yes,” Harbaugh said when asked if McDonald, the 49ers’ starting defensive end, would be on the field against the Cowboys. Then he added: “As it stands now, yes.”

McDonald was arrested last Sunday on suspicion of domestic abuse. San Jose police have not yet handed a final report to the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office, which means that if there is a formal charge against McDonald, it won’t come until next week at the earliest.

Harbaugh all week expressed his repulsion of domestic violence, saying anyone who committed it would not be “tolerated” on his team. But he also said the 49ers wouldn’t act until “due process” has occurred, which Harbaugh said boiled down to determining the “facts and information” regarding what happened at McDonald’s birthday party early Sunday morning.

“The two principles are woven together here,” Harbaugh said. “I just feel like the way the facts are, and what’s known, he has the liberty to play in the game.”

Police said McDonald’s fiancée, who is 10 weeks pregnant, had visible injuries, which prompted McDonald’s arrest.

McDonald has not been made available to reporters this week, and teammates – many of whom attended the party – were told not to discuss the events that led to his arrest.

“The truth will come out, you know,” McDonald said after posting bail. “I can’t say too much right now, but the truth will come out. Everybody knows what kind of person I am. I’m a good-hearted person.”

McDonald practiced with the team throughout the week. He was late coming out to practice on Wednesday and Thursday because “he was dealing with the matter,” Harbaugh said.

Last September, Smith practiced on the same day he was arrested for DUI, which involved him crashing into a residential front yard in San Jose, and he played every snap in the game two days later.

“Like today, he’ll be back to work and playing on Sunday,” Harbaugh said on the day of Smith’s arrest.

Davis to sit – Anthony Davis, who has started every game for the 49ers since being drafted in the first round in 2010, will miss his first NFL game with a hamstring strain.

That means Jonathan Martin likely will start at right tackle against the Cowboys. Martin started 23 games over two seasons with the Miami Dolphins, and he started all four preseason games for the 49ers at right tackle.

Martin made progress in each preseason game, in part because he lost 15 pounds during a bout with mononucleosis in the spring and has gotten stronger throughout the summer.

“I’ve started before in this league, so I’m confident in my ability,” he said. “And I’m excited to get going.”

Harbaugh also said Alex Boone would be activated today, but he would not reveal whether Boone would start at right guard. The 49ers have had a roster exemption for Boone, who had been a contract holdout until Monday.

Injuries – The 49ers list wide receiver Michael Crabtree as questionable with a calf injury. Crabtree, however, has practiced the last two days and said he was eager to play against the Cowboys since he grew up in the Dallas area.

• Cornerback Chris Culliver (ankle) and tight end Vance McDonald took part in full in Friday’s practice and are listed as probable for the game.



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