Ray McDonald not interested in being a backup

Ray McDonald has spent his four NFL seasons playing on the 49ers’ defensive line, and he’ll soon become an unrestricted free agent, if players with four years of experience are eligible for unrestricted free agency. And he already knows what he’ll be looking for as a free agent: A chance to start.

McDonald says it won’t be money, but the ability to be in a starting lineup, that will lead him to his new team.

“I know I’m an every-down player, a starter,” McDonald told the Sacramento Bee. “And that’s what I’m looking to do this year. I’m not looking to back up anybody. I’m looking to start this year.”

That doesn’t necessarily mean McDonald wants to leave San Francisco, where he played all 32 games the last two seasons but didn’t start any. But it does mean that if the 49ers want to keep him, it won’t just be about money. It will also be about convincing McDonald that he’ll be atop the depth chart.