49ers Blog and Q&A

News, notes and reader questions about the San Francisco 49ers

July 25, 2011
Free agents Smith, McDonald say they want to return to 49ers

Alex Smith and Ray McDonald, two 49ers unrestricted free agents who have been working out at San Jose State, both say they want to return to the 49ers. One, however, promises to ink his name sooner than the other.

"My mind is made up," Smith said Monday. "It's been made up a long time. I'm not going to wait for anything. I'm just waiting for that opportunity (to sign a contract). I'm sure it will be pretty quick. I'm sure it'll move fast. It's pretty well set in stone, I think."


The 49ers are also likely to make an offer to Ray McDonald, who for the last two seasons has been a third-down specialist at defensive end. McDonald indicated that he'd like to be back -- "They seemed like they were interested in bringing me back," he said - but said that in the end it will be a business decision.

McDonald said he was unlikely to sign on the dotted line until he could test his value on the open market. The full free agency period begins at 3 p.m. Friday. "I'm going to go with the best deal for me," McDonald said. "I want to be here. I love the city of San Francisco, the city of San Jose. But I've got to go with the best deal for me."

Smith and McDonald are two of the team's 15 unrestricted free agents. If I had to handicap which are most likely to return, I might list them like this:

1. Alex Smith
2. David Baas
3. Ray McDonald
4. Takeo Spikes
5. Dashon Goldson
6. Barry Sims
7. Travis LaBoy
8. Demetric Evans
9. Tony Wragge
10. Aubrayo Franklin
11. Manny Lawson
12. Jeff Reed
13. Will James
14. Troy Smith
15. Brian Westbrook

Another free agent, Green Bay Packers wideout James Jones, also has been a regular at San Jose State, his alma mater. Jones, of course, has been rubbing elbows with 49ers players all offseason. And he actually had one throwing session with Alex Smith and co. on campus. So, would he consider joining those guys and playing in Jim Harbaugh's West Coast offense?

"I'd play for the 49ers," he said.

But before you get your hopes up, 49ers fans, Jones, like most unrestricted free agents, is keeping his options as wide open as possible. "I've got a lot of mixed emotions right now," he said. "I don't really know what I'm going to do. I love my teammates . I love being a Green Bay Packer. At the end of the day, it'll be hard for me to leave. But I also have to worry about providing for my family."

Harbaugh is scheduled to hold a press conference from Santa Clara at 3 p.m. Should be interesting.

-- Matt Barrows


Matt was born in Blacksburg, Va., and attended the University of Virginia. He graduated in 1995, went to Northwestern for a journalism degree a year later, and got his first job at a South Carolina daily in 1997. He joined The Bee as a Metro reporter in 1999 and started covering the 49ers in 2003. His favorite player of all time is Darrell Green.


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