Defensive end Ray McDonald has been playing well, 49ers defensive coordinator Vic Fangio said, despite the off-the-field issues Fangio believes must be weighing on his mind.
“He’s done a good job vs. the run,” Fangio said Thursday. “I’m sure his play has been affected somewhat with the burden on his mind, but I think he’s played well enough in spite of everything.”
McDonald was arrested Aug. 31 on suspicion of felony domestic abuse after an early-morning 911 call was made from his home, the site of a birthday party for McDonald. Police said they found “visible injuries” on his fiancée, which led to McDonald’s arrest.
He met with investigators during the start of practice in Week 1, but otherwise his routine during the week, and on game days, has been normal. McDonald has played more snaps than any of the team’s defensive linemen and is tied for sixth on the team in tackles.
Meanwhile, the investigation into the incident is nearing the end of its fourth week. His initial Sept. 15 court date was pushed back until Monday. That hearing, however, also will be delayed if the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office does not receive the case today.
The district attorney’s office said the timing is normal for a case that involves so many witnesses. Investigators also are looking into an incident in May involving McDonald and his fiancée in which she allegedly retrieved a handgun following an argument.
Willis returns – Patrick Willis dismissed the wrist injury that kept him out of Wednesday’s practice as minor, and he was a full participant in Thursday’s practice. He wore wrist guards on both arms.
Willis has suffered three fractures to his hands since entering the NFL in 2007, including last summer. He also played with a cast on his hand at Ole Miss.
“I think it always is (a concern) when you first hear that he’s hurt his wrist/hand area,” Fangio said. “But I don’t think it’s a problem this time. I don’t think it will be a long-range problem, hopefully.”
Willis leads the team in tackles, and he and fellow inside linebacker Michael Wilhoite largely will be responsible for limiting the dynamic Philadelphia Eagles running back duo of LeSean McCoy and Darren Sproles.
“They have a huge challenge covering those guys out of the backfield,” Fangio said. “They’ve got a huge challenge tackling those guys, too, when they hand the ball off to them. It’ll be a challenge for our entire defense. Those are two very explosive, elusive players that give them two home-run hitters coming out of the backfield, which just adds to their offense.”
Injuries – Tight end Vance McDonald (knee) returned to practice on a limited basis. Tight end Vernon Davis (ankle) and tackle Anthony Davis (hamstring) also were limited.
Wide receiver Michael Crabtree was added to the injury report with a quad strain. He practiced in full.