Niner Noise presents a new five-part series: The 5 Most Underrated San Francisco 49ers on the current roster. Yesterday we kicked off with our fifth most underrated 49er Bruce Miller. Today our fourth most underrated Niner: Ray McDonald.
McDonald seems to be a forgotten name when surrounded by such players as Justin Smith, Patrick Willis, Navorro Bowman and Aldon Smith, but his ability to get off the line and rush the passer in the Niners’ 3-4 defense and bookend “The Cowboy” allows the Niners to get an inside push along with their outstanding outside pass rushers.
McDonald, a third-round pick in 2007 from the University of Florida, dropped in the draft due to major knee injuries in college and there was questions whether he would see the field his rookie year and if he would actually be able to contribute in the long-term. McDonald aced both those questions that allowed the Niners to award him with a five-year deal in 2011.
McDonald — along with many of the 49er defenders — has scheme versatility. He can play defensive end in the 3-4 and when the Niners shift to a 4-3 or their nickel and dime defense Ray can kick inside to defensive tackle along with Justin Smith to create a brutal front four of the Smith Brothers and Ahmad Brooks.
Check out Niner Noise tomorrow for our third most underrated player on the San Francisco 49ers.