Those who had the privilege of watching Vance McDonald during Senior Bowl week got to see a tough, rugged competitor with very good athleticism and ball skills. His measurables are highly underrated when you consider he ranked 25th out of all the draft prospects in terms of physical tools.
Coming out of Rice, not many people were aware of Vance on a national stage but he proved his value all week long against some of the best prospects in the draft in Mobile.
While at Rice, Vance had a knack for scoring touchdowns and was a very reliable target in the red zone.
McDonald won’t be an every-down starter his first year with the San Francisco 49ers, but he should see significant playing time. His ability to get open and make plays makes him a reliable target downfield, and his functional strength will prove valuable in the 49ers’ power running game.
This kid should play for a long time in this league and has starting potential. He will never be one of those elite receiving TEs who keep defensive coordinators up late, but he can provide a ton of steady, reliable production year after year.
One of the intriguing things about this guy is that he’s one of the few TE prospects in this draft who can be called a complete player. While at Rice, he was both an effective blocker and an established receiver—though he did struggle in pass-blocking against Ezekiel Ansah during the Senior Bowl game on a few plays.
Considering the 49ers have one of the best TEs in the league already on their roster, McDonald will be expected to come in and provide depth to the position. But Harbaugh’s offenses love to use two-tight end sets, and he should see a ton of playing time early in his career.
McDonald provides the 49er offense with a great weapon and versatility in formations and creating mismatches.
Though it would have been nice to see the 49ers steal Tyler Eifert when they moved up in Round 1, taking McDonald with their second pick in the second round should prove to be a suitable alternative.
His value in the red zone will pay dividends right off the back, and they also get good insurance in case something were to happen to Vernon Davis.
One question that will be answered with time is whether or not TE Travis Kelce would have been the better fit here. I feel comfortable with the decision to take McDonald instead of Kelce, but there should be some debate about it for a while.
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