49ers made right move committing to McDonald

Dan Arkush
Smith's D-line mates come through for 49ers

While the 49ers received much more notoriety for their additions last offseason via the draft (Aldon Smith, Kendall Hunter, Chris Culliver, Bruce Miller) and free agency (Carlos Rogers, David Akers, Donte Whitner, Jonathan Goodwin), as key a move as any was the under-the-radar five-year, $20 million contract extension for DE Ray McDonald. "It came down to keeping (NT) Aubrayo Franklin or McDonald (as the left end), and there's no doubt they picked the right guy," one team insider said of McDonald, who has to rank very highly among the league's most unsung performers in 2011. "He's a very dedicated guy who stayed on the field and has really improved the last two seasons. The season before last, he would get to the pocket but have a hard time finishing. This year was a much different story (team-high 14½ tackles for loss). And he showed real toughness overcoming a nagging hamstring injury."