Last week, when the 49ers took on the New York Giants, defensive end Ray McDonald made the start at left defensive end, and he didn't look very good, and at times, looked downright bad. He was hurt the previous week, and probably shouldn't even have been active against New York. There were plays in which he was dominated, and plays in which he didn't even look to put out an effort. It's really hard to say that too ... it's more of that he looked like he was too hurt to put out an effort.
On five or six different occasions, New York snapped the ball, McDonald stood up, and did absolutely nothing. If it seems overly critical, don't despair - McDonald has been absolutely fantastic this year outside of that one game. This is his first full year as a starter, and he's played with a chip on his shoulder - being rated by some as one of the best 3-4 ends in the NFL right now. So, in actuality, it was scary to see McDonald play so poorly against New York, while the rest of the team performed well around him.
There were some worries that he still might not be 100% healthy, and with the short week coming up, that he shouldn't play against the Arizona Cardinals. However, he did play - and he played very well. McDonald only registered a single tackle, but he applied constant pressure and basically abused right guard Rex Hadnot the entire game. McDonald also got good pressure on John Skelton on the play that saw the Cardinals quarterback to throw an interception to Dashon Goldson.
Going into a game against the Baltimore Ravens, one of the most important and toughest games this season, it's a necessity that the team be confident in McDonald. So long as there were no set backs with his injury on Sunday, McDonald should start and have the confidence in him restored.