Aldon Smith

Jim Harbaugh: Ray McDonald will play on Sunday

Ray McDonald SF 49ers

On Wednesday, Jim Harbaugh repeatedly said the 49ers would utilize “information and fact” to determine the right course of action with Ray McDonald, who was arrested over the weekend on domestic abuse charges.

So will he make the trip to Dallas?

“Yes,” said Harbaugh today.

Will he play?

“Yes. As it stands now, yes.”

What led to this decision?

“I feel like the way the facts are and what’s known, that he has the liberty to play in the game,” said Harbaugh, who refused to go into the details of what the 49ers know, calling it “a legal matter.”

The 49ers better know enough to be certain that McDonald will be exonerated, otherwise the karma police (and that includes fans, not just columnists) are going to be in full force. And that’s win or lose, although if McDonald plays and the 49ers lose on Sunday, the pitchforks are going to be even sharper.

Even if the 49ers have every reason to believe McDonald is innocent, and that he didn’t commit a single violent act toward the woman who called 911 that night, what Tim Kawakami said is absolutely true.

Aldon Smith ran into a tree on a Thursday … suited up on Sunday.

Let’s go back to November 30, 2012 — a Friday. Demarcus Dobbs was arrested early that morning for DUI after a single-car crash in Santa Clara.

San Francisco 49ers Statement on Demarcus Dobbs:
“The 49ers are aware of the recent matter involving Demarcus Dobbs. We are gathering the relevant facts as it pertains to this situation. We have been in contact with both Demarcus and the League office. He will not be making the trip to St. Louis, and we will reserve further comment at this time.”

If you’re a starter and get arrested, it’s all about “due process.” Dobbs was arrested on the same day as a team flight, sure. But Aldon Smith practiced on the same day as his DUI.

The McDonald case is a bit different. There’s no “smoking tire,” as there was when Smith’s pickup truck careened into that person’s yard and a rear wheel spun in place on a driveway, or when Dobbs crashed his vehicle into a chain link fence. McDonald’s story doesn’t look good, but the 49ers may believe that he did absolutely nothing wrong. But what if a role player found himself in the same situation? Would he be on that plane to Dallas this afternoon?

As I wrote yesterday, this situation is complex. If you deactivate McDonald for one game, what about Week 2 and beyond, especially if the case drags on? But it’s telling that the 49ers are already letting the public know that McDonald will resume his normal role this Sunday, when they could’ve kept that information to themselves until the inactive lists were announced. Either they know something we don’t, or team policy is they will only keep key contributors out of the lineup if they’re in jail, rehab or suspended by the NFL.

Roster notes, Jonathan Martin speaks

— Anthony Davis is listed as OUT. Michael Crabtree is questionable with a calf injury.

— Harbaugh said the 49ers would announce a move tomorrow that would place Alex Boone on the roster. No word on whether he’ll play, either at right guard or right tackle (as I suggested might be a possibility earlier today).

— The 49ers head coach wasn’t in a mood to discuss much of anything today, especially in response to questions about playing time.

“Again, the information you’re asking me, I would love to get from the Cowboys. Each question, darn near each question. I’d love to have that same information to ask from the Cowboys. So, if we can glean that prior to the game, that would be very helpful. So, understanding I’d like that information, I’d be hesitant to give it. Would rather choke the flow of some of that information.”

— The above statement was Harbaugh’s closing remark. I asked him about Bruce Ellington, who’s listed as the top punt and kickoff returner on the depth chart, ahead of LaMichael James. His response was about what you’d expect.

“Well, there’s not something that we talk about. Who’s doing what and how many times you’re going to do it and in what form or fashion they’re going to be used in the ballgame. The depth chart is a guide, but you couldn’t take it as Gospel and verse,” said Harbaugh.

— Anthony’s still the starter, but I’m going to play my best. I’ve started before in this league, so I’m confident in my ability,” said Martin. “I’m excited to get it going.”

— Martin said he lost 15 pounds due to his bout with mono, but he used the five weeks between OTAs and training camp to get back to full strength. “I really hit the weights hard. I think that really paid dividends.”

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