Ray McDonald: 'It's all love between us'

Ray McDonald was all smiles as he watched the first practice of 49ers training camp and received congratulations from players and coaches alike for his new five-year, $20 million deal with the team. McDonald can't join practice until Aug. 4, but he plans on making things happen once he does after receiving a lucrative commitment that elevates him to starting status on the team's defensive front.


Here are some of McDonald's thoughts on a variety of subjects after he officially signed his new deal Friday afternoon.

Q: What does it tell you about the commitment you've received from this team with your new five-year deal?
McDonald:
It feels great. All the work has been paid off, and it really shows that they wanted me back here. I really want to be back here. You know, I can't wait until Thursday to when I get on the field with the rest of my teammates.

Q: You haven't started a game for this team since 2008. How ready do you feel now to step back into a full-time role?
McDonald:
I mean, these past couple of years have been kind of tough because I've been kind of a role player. So now I get to go in there, get out on the field every snap, and have a chance to make a bunch of plays for me team to help us win ball games.

Q: How strange it is to be perfectly healthy, but to have to sit around for a week before you can join the team for practice because of CBA rules?
McDonald:
It is, but those are the rules for the CBA, so you've got to follow the rules. But when Thursday comes, I'm running. I'm going. So I can't wait for that.

Q: What kind of words or encouragement did coach Jim Harbaugh and GM Trent Baalke have for you today when they pulled you aside today on the field?
McDonald:
I mean, they're just happy that I'm here. And I'm happy to be here. So, it's all love between us. But by the end of the day, I have to come out here and perform and show everybody why they gave me that money. So I'll just be ready when Thursday comes.

Q: What are your impressions of Harbaugh and the way it's going to go with his new system, and new everything?
McDonald:
It's going to great, man. It's going to be a breath of fresh air for all of us. I feel like he's going to come in here, we're going to win some ball games, we're definitely going to make the playoffs and make a run for the Super Bowl. So, it's going to be real exciting year for us. Coach Harbaugh is a good coach, he's brought in a good staff, and it's going to be a real great year for us.

Q: How much has working with (defensive line) coach (Jim) Tomsula helped you and how much did it factor in your return?
McDonald:
It has been a real plus. He knows what kind of player I am, he knows if he has me back, we're going to be a better defense. Now I'm back, and we're going to be a good defense.

Q: What are your thoughts about all the new defensive coaches the team has brought in?
McDonald:
It's pretty much the same stuff, we're still running a 3-4 (scheme). We have to get acclimated to a different terminology that they're bringing. But they seem like pretty good guys, and like I say, Harbaugh's a good coach, so he's going to bring good coaches with him.

Q: Some of your teammates have said learning the new defense has been like learning a new language. What are your thoughts on that, all the learning that has to be done in a hurry?
McDonald:
I mean, it's just different terminology. It's pretty much the same defense, just different words. So if we can remember what we did in the past defense, and just add it to that, it will be a lot easier to remember. So it's not hard at all.

Q: After being a situational player the past two years, how can you be a better player now that you'll be a full-time player?
McDonald:
Just go out there, do my assignment and just make plays. Know what I have to do in certain situations, and just be in better condition, because I'm going to be out there a lot longer now. So I have to get ready for that.

Q: Do you get into a better flow when you are on the field as a regular, and is that something you've missed?
McDonald:
When you go out there and you're just role playing, you're not really getting into a good groove. But when you're out there every play, you get a feel for line, and you can make more plays that way. And that's what I'm looking to do.


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