Ray McDonald: Working Ravens Into Tough Third-Down Situations is Key for San Francisco

January 31, 2013 – 6:30 am by Eric Schmoldt

Ray McDonald is hardly the most recognizable name at the front of the San Francisco 49ers’ defense, but he has started every game this season and has nine tackles in the postseason. He also has the skinny when it comes to breaking down some of the Niners’ game plan when it comes to Super Bowl XLVII.

Ray McDonald joined 97.5 The Fan in San Francisco with Bucher and Towny to discuss the excitement of playing in the Super Bowl, the evolution of Joe Flacco, avoiding the deep ball on Sunday, what the 49ers are rallying around and the need to get the Ravens in third-and-long situations.

What does it feel like to be playing in the Super Bowl?:

“Like we’ve all been saying, it’s surreal. It’s a dream come true. It’s what we’ve been working on all season for. It’s what we’ve been building up to, and we’re finally here now. We’re just trying to take advantage of this great opportunity that’s been given to us and just hopefully come out with a win on Sunday.”

How has Joe Flacco evolved as a quarterback?:

“I think he manages the game a lot better. They’re giving him a lot more control over the offense. Like guys like Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers are like that. He’s making a lot more checks at the line. He’s getting the ball out quicker. He’s becoming a better overall QB. And he’s mobile, so that’s a big threat as well.”

How much have you guys talked about the deep ball in preparing for this game?:

“Every day. They have speed. They have a guy, Torry Smith, that can fly. Anquan Boldin, he can run as well. That’s something we have to be prepared for. We’ve got to keep a guy back there on Torry Smith, because he can get behind defenses. When they’re running the ball with effectiveness and you drop a safety down, then that’s when they’re going to take shots. We have to be prepared for that.”

Ray Lewis has been a guy to rally around for the Ravens. What is your guys’ rallying point?:

“They talk about Ray Lewis, but we have some guys on our team that haven’t won a Super Bowl. Maybe it’s not going to be their last year, but they’ve never been in a moment like this. Guys like Justin Smith, Randy Moss has been here but hasn’t won it. … Guys like that, we want to do it for them.”

On trying to stop Ray Rice and make the Ravens one-dimensional:

“That’s what got us here, so we’ve got to stick to that formula. The Ravens, they like to run the ball on first and second down, get to third down and get it at a manageable down and distance. So that’s what we’ve got to do, we’ve got to stop them. We’ve got to keep them out of those third-and-fives and fours and sixes. We’ve got to keep them in those third-and-seven-pluses. We’ve done that for the most part this year. That’s why we’re here in the Super Bowl.”

What’s the element of the Ravens’ offense that is the most impressive?:

“I just think the physicalness they play with. They have a good offensive line, good receivers, and how efficient they are, how they run the ball real well. … We’ve just got to be ready for that. They’re a good football team.”

Listen to Ray McDonald on 95.7 The Game in San Francisco here

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