Just as I posted about Travis LaBoy geting overshadowed in free agency, the 49ers and Ray McDonald overshadow him further! Matt Barrows just tweeted that league sources indicate Ray McDonald has come to terms on a five year contract with the 49ers. As has been repeatedly discussed, McDonald had emerged as a priority of the 49ers entering free agency. Adam Schefter tweeted the deal is worth $20 million, with $7 million guaranteed.
McDonald's role is not quite determined at this point, although his future could very well be tied to Aubrayo Franklin. If Franklin walks in free agency as many expect, that would open up the defensive line to some competition for playing time. Justin Smith is locked in as the right defensive end, but if Franklin is gone, that means we could see Isaac Sopoaga move in to the nose tackle role. That would open up the left defensive end starting spot for McDonald. And in fact, if the 49ers decide somebody other than Sopoaga fits the nose tackle role, I could see McDonald still ending up as the starter at left defensive end.
The 49ers still have some other holes, but if they're comfortable with Ray McDonald in a starting job, this will fill a good-sized piece of the team's free agency puzzle. Injury hurt his draft stock in 2007 but if he can remain healthy, his upside is high.