49ers happy with rookie tight end

October, 17, 2013
10/17/13
7:20
PM ET
SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- Tight end Vance McDonald, a second-round draft pick by the 49ers, has been playing extremely well in the past few weeks.

His statistical impact hasn’t been great. The TCU product has five catches for 66 yards. However, San Francisco offensive coordinator Greg Roman said McDonald is making a strong impression because he is making strong strides as a rookie.

“We’ve asked a lot of him the past couple weeks, really the past three weeks,” Roman said. “[We] couldn’t be more pleased with how he’s done. And really expect him to take those kinds of steps moving forward. The one thing you notice about players is everybody’s going to make mistakes as a rookie. That’s a fact. And do you repeat those mistakes? Thus far, he’s done a great job of learning from the good, the bad and the ugly and moving on a better football player. So, he’s done a really nice job and it needs to continue.”

It seems to me McDonald is still learning his way as an NFL route runner, which is to be expected. He has impressed as a blocker. This rookie work will serve McDonald well in his development. I won’t be shocked if he quickly emerges as an impact player.

In other 49ers notes:
  • Second-year defensive tackle Tony Jerod-Eddie may have to play extensively at Tennessee on Sunday because of a hamstring injury suffered by Glenn Dorsey. The former undrafted free agent has been impressive in a backup role this season. San Francisco defensive coordinator Vic Fangio is confident if Jerod-Eddie has to start against the Titans.

    “He did fine in there this past game,” Fangio said. “Tony’s been here now for two years. He’s progressed a lot in a short period of time as a player and both physically he’s improved his body. He’s gotten to play here a fair amount in the last two, three games. His work is paying off and he still has a lot of improvement he can make, but we’re pleased with where he’s at right now.”
  • Fangio said the 49ers are preparing to face the read-option some Sunday in case Jake Locker will play. He has missed the past two games with a hip injury. Still, Ryan Fitzpatrick is expected to start.
  • Key members of the San Francisco staff are familiar from their Stanford days with former Pac-12 stars Alterraun Verner, Jurrell Casey and Akeem Ayers, who are all key parts of the Titans defense.
  • The 49ers struggled in the red zone against Arizona last week. Overall, 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick is 7-for-15 passing in the red zone.
  • Linebacker Patrick Willis does not seem to be amused by being misquoted in a conference call with Tennessee media on Wednesday.

Bill Williamson | email

ESPN Oakland Raiders reporter

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