Veteran TE Vance McDonald no lock to make 49ers roster

Analyst David Neumann explains why Vance McDonald isn't a lock to make San Francisco's final 53-man roster.

| 1 month ago
49ers TE Vance McDonald

(Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images)

Veteran TE Vance McDonald no lock to make 49ers roster


  • After the San Francisco 49ers attempted to trade tight end Vance McDonald during the NFL draft last month, it “wouldn’t be a surprise if he didn’t make the 53-man roster,” according to Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle.
  • McDonald posted a career-high PFF grade in 2016, with his 71.6 overall grade ranking 24th out of 63 qualifying tight ends.
  • McDonald’s yards-per-route-run-mark has increased in each of the past three seasons, topping out at 1.67 in 2016, which ranked 13th out of 42 tight ends with at least 30 targets.
  • However, drops have been a consistent issue throughout the former second-round pick’s career, as McDonald has dropped 12 of 76 catchable passes since entering the league in 2013.
  • McDonald’s 15.8 percent drop rate since 2013 is the worst among 49 tight ends with at least 75 catchable targets in that span. Vance McDonald drops
  • Andre Taylor

    Many fans dont know much about TE George Kittle, with O.J. Howard and David Njoku getting most of the headlines in a deep TE class. Kittle flew under the radar, although drafted by the 49ers Kittle still had to wait until the 5th round to hear his name called. Coming from a run based pro-style offense at the University of Iowa, much like Howard, Kittle was underused. I watched several of his games last year, but Kittle really caught my eye in Iowa’s lost to D2 powerhouse North Dakota State. QB C.J Beatherd and the offense struggled most of the game, however the one bright spot for the Hawkeyes was Kittle. Arguably the best run blocking TE in the entire draft, Kittle showed excellent speed, agility, quickness and hands. Despite his ability and the Hawkeyes being a run first team, Kittle didn’t see the amount of passes a TE of his caliber should. Then he goes to the combine and does an outstanding job in the positional drills, bench pressed 225, 21 times, and goes out at 6ft 4, 250lbs and runs a 4.53. Second only to O.J. Howard for the TE position, so it doesn’t surprise me one bit that former starter Vance McDonald may be on the roster bubble. With opportunity, his skillset, and speed in new HC Kyle Shanahan’s offense. Kittle may end up being the most productive TE in this year’s class, certainly outperforming his draft slot and most of the other TE’s in his class. Alot of teams will regret allowing Kittle to slip by them, and the 49ers may very well regret it also, having to pay him after his rookie contract runs out.

    • Shaun

      Nice post. Agreed

      • Andre Taylor

        Thanks Shaun, this year’s TE class is the deepest ive seen since i can remember. The other TE’s drafted are either going to loaded offenses or bad offenses, Kittle is going into a situation where not only will he have the opportunity to win the starting job. But Kyle Shanahan’s offense is very TE friendly, along with RB friendly. Kittle will beat out veteran Vance McDonald, but along with veteran WR Pierre Garcon to be the 49ers most consistent pass receiving weapons. Also helping in the run game because Kittle is an excellent blocking TE

        • Mike W

          Great posts Andre — Kittle was one of my favorite picks this year a great value in the 5th. I actually like Hikutini, one of the top UDFA this year, as well and wouldn’t be shocked if both make the final 53

          • Andre Taylor

            Well thanks Mike, i don’t know much about Hikutini. I saw him in a couple of Louisville games last year, however i dont go by the ratings that PFF, ESPN or any of these other websites that rate the college players coming out. Every year we as fans see that those sites, most scouts and GM’s are way off and dont know what they are talking about. Those same sites had low grades on QB Dak Prescott, RB Jordan Howard, and DE Yannick Ngakoue last year, 3 players that all went 2 round or later that i knew would be good NFL players. As a former D1 college football player, i go by what i see and how that players skillset would translate to the NFL. Those ratings go by what the prototypical player at a specific position should look like, verses scouting the total prospect. Kittle is a prime example of how far they are off, besides being an inch shorter and a few pounds lighter. Kittle compares to O.J. Howard in almost every category, both underused in college. Both excellent run and pass blockers, good hands, athleticism, Howard ran a 4.51, and Kittle ran a 4.53 at the combine. Yet Kittle goes in the 5th round, and Howard goes in the 1st. Its a big crap shoot, with teams taking an educated guess. Most teams get lucky, while some actually do their homework.