Having started every game of the New Orleans Saints' run to the Super Bowl in 2009, current 49ers center Jonathan Goodwin said he knows one thing going into Saturday's divisional playoff game: Though the Saints have yet to win a playoff game on the road, are traveling to the West Coast and will face one of the league's top defenses in the 49ers, they won't be lacking for confidence.
"I know that's a very confident team, and they definitely deserve to be," Goodwin said Thursday. "We were confident when I was there, and they're a 13-3 team that's playing well. But we (the 49ers) should be confident in ourselves, go out and see if we can execute our game plan better."
The veteran center spent five seasons with the Saints before signing prior to this season with the 49ers, where he helped stabilize the offensive line and was recently named a Pro Bowl alternate.
Head coach Jim Harbaugh said Thursday that Goodwin has been "a block of granite up there for us." With his 2009 Super Bowl ring, Goodwin is also one of 11 players on the 49ers roster who have previous playoff experience -- a number that includes just four of the team's starters on offense and defense.
Comparing that to the wealth of postseason experience in the Saints' locker room is a hot topic this week, though both teams have played down any significance. "We've got guys that have never been there before, that's for sure, but maybe that's a good thing," Harbaugh said. "It's like kids who haven't played a game in a long time. They're excited to do it."
According to tight end Vernon Davis, Goodwin has been roaming the locker room this week parsing out insights on the Saints and playoff atmosphere. "My advice this week has pretty much been, first series or so it might feel a little different," Goodwin said. "But once you get out there and get a couple plays in, hit somebody, it all becomes football again."
Defensive end Ray McDonald said he "should be ready to go" for Saturday's game. McDonald, who has been battling a right hamstring strain and was again limited in practice Thursday, said the 49ers' playoff bye helped "tremendously" in his recovery.
That bye week and this Saturday's home game resulted from the 49ers actively pursuing the NFC's No. 2 seed, and McDonald pointed out that there have already been rewards. "You don't have to fly, so you can get a lot more work in during the week," he said. "We're grateful for that."
Tight end Delanie Walker (jaw) is not expected to play against the Saints, Harbaugh said. Walker was the only 49ers player who did not participate in Thursday's practice, the team reported. McDonald, cornerback Chris Culliver (knee), receiver Ted Ginn Jr. (ankle) and receiver Kyle Williams (concussion) were limited.
Ginn, one of the 49ers who has been to the playoffs, said that he feels "great" and should be good to go Saturday.
Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma (knee) did not practice Thursday, while safety Roman Harper (ankle) was limited. On Wednesday it was Harper who did not practice and Vilma who was limited.
-- Matt Kawahara