NFL Nation: Vance McDonald

Examining the San Francisco 49ers' roster:

QUARTERBACKS (2)

Because of heavy competition elsewhere, the 49ers will likely only carry two quarterbacks. They finished last season that way. The competition will be to see if undrafted rookie Kory Faulkner can take McLeod Bethel-Thompson's spot on the practice squad.

RUNNING BACKS (5)

The fact that the 49ers drafted Hyde in the second round and Lattimore is healthy means some tough decisions will have to be made. Hunter is too valuable to let go. That means 2012 second-round pick LaMichael James will have difficulty making the roster.

WIDE RECEIVERS (6)

The 49ers are so much deeper here this year than last. That means they will likely have to keep six receivers. Lloyd may look good and Patton has too much potential to give up on. That means it could be tough for Kassim Osgood to make it even though he is a special teams cog.

TIGHT ENDS (3)

If Davis ends his holdout, I can't see the 49ers keeping more than three tight ends because of the glut at receiver. Unless Garrett Celek has a big camp, he may be in trouble. Carrier intrigues the 49ers because of his size and speed.

OFFENSIVE LINE (8)

Assuming Boone ends his holdout, this is a pretty nice group of eight players. It's improved from last year. A solid veteran like Adam Snyder and a promising youngster like Ryan Seymour will have trouble making the team.

DEFENSIVE LINE (9)

This is another power spot. It's deep. Players like Jerod-Eddie and Dial are too valuable to cut. Ramsey has looked good and I have a hunch the 49ers may like him too much to expose him to the waiver wire. That means Demarcus Dobbs could be in trouble.

LINEBACKERS (7)

Most teams carry six linebackers but the 49ers are stacked here, especially with NaVorro Bowman out for about half the season. Because fifth-round pick Lynch is promising he should make the roster. Dan Skuta is an excellent player, but there might not be any room for him. I could see him being one of those later-summer Trent Baalke trade specials because he has value.

CORNERBACKS (5)

This unit is in flux, but I see Johnson making it. Don't be surprised if there is some in-camp jockeying as the 49ers look for the best mix.

SAFETIES (5)

Ward, the 49ers' first-round pick, will play nickel cornerback as a rookie, but projects long term as a safety. Ventrone and Spillman should stick because they are great on special teams. Craig Dahl could be in trouble.

SPECIALISTS (3):

This group is set and it's excellent.
» NFC Preview: East | West | North | South » AFC: East | West | North | South

NFL Nation's Bill Williamson examines the three biggest issues facing the San Francisco 49ers heading into training camp.

The holdouts: The 49ers, fresh off three straight trips to the NFC title game and seemingly poised for another long postseason run, have the weathered many storms this offseason.

Yes, there are some issues that still linger. The 49ers do not know if tight end Vernon Davis and/or guard Alex Boone will continue their holdouts into training camp.

Both players stayed away from voluntary workouts, and then became official holdouts when they did not report to mandatory minicamp last month.

Both Davis and Boone want a new deal. There are indications Boone will stay away until he gets a new contract. Davis has wavered, but he could also miss a chunk of camp.

Both players are key to the offense and would be missed. The 49ers would have to rely on youth at both spots if the holdouts linger. Vance McDonald would play for Davis and Joe Looney would play for Boone. Neither player is the caliber of the player they’d replace.

Aldon Smith: The 49ers head to training camp not completely sure of the future of the standout pass-rusher. The 49ers are set to start training camp next Wednesday. Two days later, Smith is set to be sentenced for pleading no contest to three felony gun charges. He could face some jail time.

He could also be facing an NFL suspension. If Smith is out, the 49ers will need to find some more pass-rush help, and that’s what training camp will be for. Dan Skuta and Corey Lemonier helped the 49ers go 5-0 last season when Smith was in a treatment center. The team also drafted Aaron Lynch in the fifth round. If these players show a pass-rush burst in camp, that will make the 49ers feel better about the prospect of playing a long chunk without Smith.

New firepower: The 49ers have big potential on offense. Training camp and the preseason will be a time for the unit to gel and figure out the best approach to use all of the talent. The receiving crew is beefed up with addition of Stevie Johnson, through a trade with Buffalo, veteran Brandon Lloyd and fourth-round pick Bruce Ellington.

The depth of this season’s receiving group is light years ahead of last year’s unit. The thought of Johnson being the No. 3 receiver behind Anquan Boldin and Michael Crabtree is silly. Ellington, a South Carolina product, gives the 49ers an element they missed last season -- a burner who can take the top of the defense.

At running back -- the heart of the 49ers’ offense is still the ground attack -- Frank Gore will have second-round pick Carlos Hyde and Marcus Lattimore, who appears to be healthy after missing last season while recovering from a 2012 torn ACL.

Hyde has looked great as a runner and receiver in the offseason. The second-round pick from Ohio State has a chance to make a big impact.

All of these new weapons of course, should help the overall game of quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who is entering his second full season as a starter.

The 49ers have big capabilities on offense, but the real work begins now.

49ers' biggest key to success

July, 10, 2014
Jul 10
12:00
PM ET
The San Francisco 49ers are well positioned to remain as one of the NFL's elite franchises over the next three years.

Jones
Kaepernick
The 49ers have advanced to the NFC Championship Game the past three seasons, cementing themselves as a top franchise. In the next three years, the 49ers should be in good shape because their roster is deep and young.

And it all centers around quarterback Colin Kaepernick.

The key for the 49ers' success in the next three seasons starts with the quarterback. Kaepernick, 26, hasn't even entered his prime. He has started just 29 NFL games.

Earlier this offseason, 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh predicted Kaepernick, who signed an extension through the 2020 season in June, would have a breakout season in 2014.

Kaepernick has tremendous skill as a passer and as a runner, but he needs to improve his accuracy and read progressions.

Kaepernick is a tireless worker, coachable and should continue to make strides. The 49ers are well equipped to help make Kaepernick better because they have a strong supporting cast.

The key is to try to extend the contract of receiver Michael Crabtree, who is Kaepernick's favorite target. Crabtree is entering the final year of his current deal. The 49ers are excited about second-year receiver Quinton Patton and fourth-round pick Bruce Ellington. They also have Stevie Johnson for the next three years. If Crabtree is re-signed, the 49ers should continue to be stacked at receiver.

At tight end, second-year player Vance McDonald needs to make strides as a receiver, especially with Vernon Davis being 30 and his contract ending after the 2015 season. The ground game looks set for the future with rookie Carlos Hyde and 2014 fourth-round pick Marcus Lattimore.

All of these weapons will make Kaepernick better and ensure the 49ers get as much as they can from him as he enters his prime.
Here are some thoughts in the aftermath of Colin Kaepernick’s huge new contract extension with the 49ers:
  • ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that Kaepernick specifically requested his deal allow the 49ers flexibility to negotiate extensions with other players. Schefter reported that Kaepernick’s signing bonus was only $12 million, which is at least half of the usual signing bonuses that come with big quarterback deals. Kaepernick mentioned at his news conference Wednesday that the deal will be designed to allow the 49ers to keep signing key players.
  • Crabtree
    Receiver Michael Crabtree and guard Mike Iupati are free agents after the 2014 season. Tight end Vernon Davis and guard Alex Boone are staying away from the team in the voluntary portion of the offseason because they want new contracts. Not everyone will get paid, but I think the 49ers will be able to find some money. I’d think Crabtree becomes the next priority. Still, it may not be easy for the team to sign an extension with him before next offseason. But with Kaepernick secured, the franchise tag will be open for Crabtree or Iupati next winter. I’d think Crabtree would be the top candidate to be tagged.
  • Expect to see a relaxed Kaepernick this season. Getting this deal done before training camp takes away the pressure of him having to try to earn the deal during the season and having to talk about it with the media on a regular basis. If the contract wasn’t completed, Kaepernick’s future would be a topic after every 49ers loss in 2014. That takes away a major potential distraction.
  • Kaepernick’s situation was watched closely by other agents. Dating back to last season, I had multiple agents tell me they thought this situation could get ugly and that Kaepernick and his agents would have difficulty with this deal. As it turns out, the deal got done early.
  • This deal may look like a bargain in six months. The 49ers added receiver Stevie Johnson in a trade and running back Carlos Hyde in the draft. The 49ers have huge weapons on offense. Kaepernick is poised for a monster season. Second-year tight end Vance McDonald mentioned Tuesday that Kaepernick has been a bigger leader this offseason than he was last season. The 49ers bought a rising stock.
  • Authorities in Miami want to soon finish an investigation in which Kaepernick is part of a "suspicious incident.” Kaepernick has strongly denied wrongdoing and the 49ers have supported him. Cleary, they don’t expect anything to come of it.
  • It was a classy move by Kaepernick to thank former 49ers starting quarterback Alex Smith for mentoring him early in his career.
  • It doesn’t sound like Kaepernick is ready to go on a big spending spree now that he is officially rich. “I think the three most expensive things I own are my TV, my bed and my couch. I’m going to keep it that way for a while,” he said.
  • Kaepernick is well respected by his teammates. That showed Wednesday. Several 49ers tweeted their congratulations to their quarterback for the big deal.
Carlos Rogers is hopeful to finally play in a playoff game this month.

Rogers
The cornerback told reporters he hopes to practice this week and barring a setback, he expects to play at Seattle in the NFC Championship Game Sunday. Rogers missed the games at Green Bay and at Carolina with a hamstring injury he suffered at Arizona in Week 17. Rogers hasn't practiced since.

Perrish Cox took Rogers' role in his absence.

Meanwhile, fullback Will Tukuafu told reporters he is day-to-day. He missed most of the Carolina game with a knee injury. He will likely be a game-time decision. Tukuafu shared time with Anthony Dixon. If he can't play, rookie tight end Vance McDonald will likely share time with Dixon as he did against Carolina.

Meanwhile, the 49ers signed receivers David Reed and DeMarco Sampson and defensive tackle Christian Tupou to future contracts.
The San Francisco 49ers' injury watch this week will not be relegated to cornerback Carlos Rogers. Fullback Will Tukuafu's health is also in question as the 49ers prepare to play at Seattle in the NFC title game on Sunday.

Tukuafu
The 294-pound Tukuafu left the win against Carolina on Sunday with a knee injury. Monday, 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh said he was encouraged by Tukuafu’s movement. He had an MRI Monday. A source with knowledge of the situation said Tukuafu is day-to-day, but there is no precise recovery time.

So, it is unclear if Tukuafu can play. Because the 49ers lean on the conservative side when it comes to injuries, the odds could be against Tukuafu playing Sunday. It will probably be a game-time decision.

Tukuafu was splitting time with Anthony Dixon after Bruce Miller was lost for the season in December with a broken scapula. Dixon and tight end Vance McDonald, who took over Tukuafu’s role, will play Sunday if Tukuafu can’t.

For Rogers, Wednesday will be key. The cornerback has missed the past two games with a hamstring injury he suffered in Week 17. He hasn’t practiced since. Rogers and the team have said the injury isn’t overly serious, yet he has not been able to get on the practice field. If he can practice this week, he can probably play at Seattle. Perrish Cox has taken his place as the nickel cornerback.

Mike Iupati out again for 49ers

December, 15, 2013
12/15/13
12:05
PM ET
TAMPA, Fla. -- The San Francisco 49ers must wait another week before getting their starting 11 offensive players on the field together for first time this season.

Left guard Mike Iupati is inactive for the fourth straight game with a knee sprain. He practiced all week on a limited basis. Barring a setback, expect him to play against Atlanta on Dec. 23. Adam Snyder continues to play for Iupati. The 49ers have not played a down all season with their full starting offensive lineup.

Cornerback Tarell Brown is active for the first time since injuring his ribs Nov. 17 at New Orleans. He is expected to back up Tramaine Brock, who took his place.

Rookie tight end Vance McDonald is inactive with an ankle injury. It is not expected to be overly serious.

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.

Taking stock of 2013 NFC West picks

September, 3, 2013
9/03/13
10:30
AM ET
Eighty-six of the first 88 players drafted in 2013 remain on 53-man rosters entering Week 1. The two exceptions play for NFC West teams.

The Arizona Cardinals' Jonathan Cooper, chosen seventh overall, suffered a season-ending leg injury during preseason. He is on injured reserve. The San Francisco 49ers' Tank Carradine, chosen 40th overall, remains on the reserve/non-football injury list while recovering from a knee injury.

Twenty-five of 39 NFC West choices this year remain on their original teams' 53-man rosters. That includes all seven picks for the St. Louis Rams and seven of nine for the Cardinals. The 49ers and Seattle Seahawks had a higher number of picks arranged lower within each round, and fewer open roster spots to accommodate them.

Injuries have left six picks from the division on various injured lists. Three of the Seahawks' top five picks will not help the team anytime soon. That includes Harper, defensive tackle Jesse Williams (injured reserve) and cornerback Tharold Simon (reserve/physically unable to perform). Percy Harvin, who cost Seattle its 2013 first-round choice, is also injured.

Five 2013 draft choices from the division landed on their original teams' practice squads. One of them, fourth-round choice Chris Harper, subsequently left his original team (Seattle Seahawks) to sign with the 49ers' 53-man roster.

Three picks from the St. Louis Rams and one from the 49ers are scheduled to start in Week 1. Cooper would have started for the Cardinals if healthy.

Harper wasn't the only NFC West draft choice to land on another team. The 49ers' Marcus Cooper, a seventh-round choice, wound up with Kansas City after the Chiefs claimed him off waivers.
A quick look at the San Francisco 49ers' 2013 draft class following the team's exhibition opener against the Denver Broncos at Candlestick Park:

FS Eric Reid, first round, No. 18 overall. Reid served as the No. 2 free safety behind starter Craig Dahl. He played 44 snaps on defense, the fourth-highest total on the team behind Michael Wilhoite (53), Perrish Cox (47), Nathan Stupar (45). Reid stood out for two solid hits. He had six tackles and handled his assignments well, according to coach Jim Harbaugh. This looked like a good first step toward the starting lineup. Reid added four snaps on special teams.

DE Tank Carradine, second round, No. 40 overall. Carradine remains sidelined while recovering from a knee injury. That was the plan for Carradine when the 49ers drafted him.

TE Vance McDonald, second round, No. 55 overall. McDonald had four receptions for 66 yards while playing 49 offensive snaps, the third-highest total on the team behind Joe Looney (51) and Patrick Omameh (51). McDonald dropped a short pass, but I thought this was a solid debut for him. The pass he caught in stride from Colt McCoy produced a 19-yard gain. McDonald also played five snaps on special teams. His 54 total snaps ranked second on the team behind Wilhoite (59).

OLB Corey Lemonier, third round, No. 88 overall. Lemonier was able to pressure the quarterback while playing 28 snaps on defense, the 13th-highest total for the 24 players to get playing time on that side of the ball. Lemonier played 11 snaps on special teams, tied for the second-highest total on the team behind Cam Johnson (12). Lemonier was not credited with a tackle.

WR Quinton Patton, fourth round, No. 128 overall. A finger injury kept Patton from playing. He's been practicing under orders to not let passes sail past him. The idea is for Patton to get reps without risking additional injury to his finger. His preseason debut will have to wait. But with 2012 second-round pick A.J. Jenkins losing a fumble following his lone reception, there could be opportunities for Patton and other young wideouts.

RB Marcus Lattimore, fourth round, No. 131 overall. Lattimore continues to rehab from a knee injury suffered in college. That was the plan for Lattimore when the 49ers drafted him. He probably will not play this season.

DE Quinton Dial, fifth round, No. 157 overall. Dial has an injured toe and did not play against the Broncos.

LB Nick Moody, sixth round, No. 180 overall. Moody played 29 snaps on defense (43 percent) before leaving the game with an apparent knee injury. Moody indicated after the game that his knee was OK. The team isn't counting on Moody this season, but the rookie has enjoyed a strong initial camp relative to expectations for a sixth-round choice. Moody had four tackles on defense and one on special teams.

QB B.J. Daniels, seventh round, No. 237 overall. Daniels played one snap on offense and three on special teams. The utility player did not play quarterback.

OT Carter Bykowski, seventh round, No. 246 overall. Bykowski played 27 snaps on offense. Officials called him for holding on a second-and-2 play. I did not watch him closely enough to pick up much else. Such is the way it goes for offensive linemen. The mistakes tend to stand out.

CB Marcus Cooper, seventh round, No. 252 overall. Cooper played 24 snaps on defense and eight more on special teams. He made one tackle (on defense).

Three things revisited: Broncos-49ers

August, 9, 2013
8/09/13
12:28
AM ET

Looking back on three things discussed here before the San Francisco 49ers' 2013 exhibition opener, a 10-6 defeat to the Denver Broncos at Candlestick Park:

1. Young receivers. The 49ers would like 2012 first-round pick A.J. Jenkins to seize the starting job opposite Anquan Boldin. But Jenkins did not make a strong positive statement in this game. "Uh, could have been better," said coach Jim Harbaugh afterward. Overall, the 49ers targeted Jenkins three times and got two turnovers on those plays: Jenkins lost a fumble following his lone reception, and Colt McCoy overthrew him on a deep route, resulting in an interception. Marlon Moore adjusted to the ball nicely and made a low grab on an across-the-body throw from starting quarterback Colin Kaepernick. The Broncos tackled Moore short of the first down, but this was still an impressive reception. Ricardo Lockette drew a penalty on the perimeter. He also contributed with a special-teams tackle deep in Denver territory. Rookie second-round choice Vance McDonald is a tight end, but he factored in the receiving game and certainly looked the part while catching four passes for 66 yards.

2. Secondary dynamics. Tramaine Brock, in the lead for the No. 3 corner role over Nnamdi Asomugha while the team prepares to welcome newly-signed Eric Wright, had tight coverage on an incomplete sideline pass from Peyton Manning to Demaryius Thomas. Asomugha made a sure tackle in zone coverage to stop the Broncos on third down. At safety, C.J. Spillman made a tackle for loss. First-round pick Eric Reid delivered a couple of forceful hits. It will be helpful to get an update from defensive coordinator Vic Fangio as the 49ers look to identify their third corner and starting free safety for Week 1.

3. Backup QBs. Grading backup quarterbacks behind backup offensive lines can be tricky. McCoy looked good infinding McDonald in stride for a 19-yard gain early, but he attempted only seven passes overall and was picked off once. McCoy apparently suffered a shoulder stinger, Harbaugh told reporters after the game. Scott Tolzien completed 15 of 26 passes for 158 yards and a pick. His quick strike to Austin Collie on a late fourth-down play sustained a drive. To be continued.

John Clayton's latest "Inside the Huddle" video leads with the Baltimore Ravens' expected shift to an offense featuring multiple tight ends more prominently.

We could see some evolution in the NFC West as well.

Among the considerations:

Arizona Cardinals: The Indianapolis Colts ranked among the NFL's top 10 teams for most plays using at least two tight ends last season. Bruce Arians, the Cardinals' new head coach and offensive play caller, was running the Colts' offense then. Arians favors tight ends over fullbacks, so Arizona should see its tight end usage increase without biting into playing time for the Cardinals' talented wide receivers. Rob Housler led NFC West tight ends in receptions last season, but his impact was muted within a struggling offense. He and veteran Jeff King are the top two tight ends. Arians figures to use both of them together and in various places, including the backfield.



St. Louis Rams: Jared Cook's arrival in free agency changes the position fundamentally for the Rams. The team transitioned away from using a fullback last season. Cook will figure prominently into the offense as a receiving tight end, lining up in the slot and on the perimeter. He and incumbent tight end Lance Kendricks figure to play extensively together in a one-back offense featuring three-plus wideouts with regularity.

San Francisco 49ers: The 49ers lost some flexibility when second tight end Delanie Walker departed in free agency. Using a second-round choice for tight end Vance McDonald signaled the team's intention to continue using a second tight end in tandem with mainstay Vernon Davis. Using additional tight ends frequently could carry additional appeal while veteran receivers Michael Crabtree and Mario Manningham recover from injuries. Crabtree figures to miss much of the season. Manningham is expected to be available earlier. McDonald has a big opportunity.



Seattle Seahawks: Zach Miller will continue to play just about all the time, but it's fair to question how much playing time secondary tight ends Luke Willson and Sean McGrath might command. Percy Harvin's arrival puts the Seahawks in better position to use three wide receivers. Like the 49ers, the Seahawks also operate from a two-back offense at times. Using additional wide receivers and running backs leaves less room on the field for tight ends, at least in theory. The Seahawks aren't going to stray from their offensive philosophy, but there are some personnel-related matters to sort out during training camp, including how much a second tight end might play.
The NFC West's fiercest current rivals, San Francisco and Seattle, both wound up selecting tight ends from Rice University in the recently completed NFL draft.

How the 49ers and Seahawks selected those tight ends invites a question: Did the 49ers snatch from Seattle a player the Seahawks would have selected?

Tight end was seen as a primary need for the 49ers and a secondary one for the Seahawks based on how each team has run its offense recently.

When NFL teams selected three tight ends between the 21st and 47th selections, San Francisco risked watching more players at the position come off the board before it was scheduled to select with the 61st overall choice. So, with Green Bay on the clock at No. 55 and Seattle scheduled to pick at No. 56, the 49ers traded into the Packers' slot to select Vance McDonald, the more prominent of Rice's tight ends last season.

Seattle then traded back six spots to No. 62 before selecting Texas A&M running back Christine Michael. The Seahawks later selected McDonald's teammate, tight end Luke Willson, in the fifth round at No. 158 overall.

To my knowledge, no one asked 49ers general manager Trent Baalke or his Seattle counterpart, John Schneider, about the sequence when San Francisco jumped past the Seahawks to select McDonald. The two men worked together in Washington years ago and could have a good feel for the other's tendencies. However, there is no way the 49ers could have known whether the Seahawks or any other team was going to select McDonald between the 55th and 61st selections.

"There's times when you want to sit tight and there’s a lot of times where people will question, 'Well, why did you move up five when he would have been there?'" Baalke told reporters when discussing trades in general. "Well, there’s no proof that the player would have been there. So, you do what you need to do to make sure you get the players you want to get."

By trading up six spots, the 49ers moved past Atlanta, New England, Denver, Houston and Seattle in the draft order. Three of those five teams selected tight ends later in the draft. Atlanta used a fourth-rounder for Stanford's Levine Toilolo. Seattle used the fifth-rounder for Willson. Houston used a sixth-rounder for Ryan Griffin from Connecticut.

Baalke could have sized up those teams' needs collectively when deciding to move up for McDonald. They might not have had only the Seahawks in mind.

The 49ers had enough picks to move around the board freely to fill needs at values agreeable to them. The price they paid Green Bay for the 55th choice -- the 61st and 173rd picks -- was lower than the price Seattle commanded for the 56th selection (Baltimore handed over the 62nd, 165th and 199th picks for that one).

[+] EnlargeVance McDonald
AP Photo/Dave MartinSan Francisco traded up in the second round to select Rice tight end Vance McDonald.
Comparatively, then, the 49ers got a good deal. Why not move up if the price is right? The Packers have long been known as a team willing to move back for additional picks. They simply could have made for a convenient trading partner whether or not Seattle was scheduled to select one spot later.

Teams usually have several players in mind for each selection they hold. They move up when the list of players they consider worthy of a certain value range dwindles, or if a specific player within striking distance is rated far higher than others likely to be available to them. They move down when the list of worthy players is longer.

"I don't know that you ever trade back six, seven, eight picks and hope one player's there," Baalke said when explaining why the 49ers traded back six spots to No. 40. "That's risky business. So, we had a number of players that we were willing to take. And at that time we felt that one of that group of guys was going to be available at 40, and we would have been happy with all of them."

The fact that McDonald and Willson both played at Rice before winding up in the NFC West seems coincidental.

"Vance was obviously the more stout guy, if you will," Schneider said. "Willson was more of the down-the-field threat, but there is no question Vance was much more involved in their offense."

Injuries limited Willson in 2012. He previously played first base on the Canadian national team and spent time in the Toronto Blue Jays organization. According to the Vancouver Sun, Willson posted impressive numbers at his pro day: 4.46 seconds in the 40-yard dash, 38-inch vertical leap, 10-plus feet in the broad jump and 23 reps of 225 pounds in the bench press.

"We like the fact that for us he was the second-best tester of all the tight ends in this draft," Schneider said. "He is 6-5 1/2, running 4.51 and great hands, can get down the field. He is quick off the ball, gets his shoulders around quick. He is a really interesting prospect for us."

Baalke said his team valued McDonald's versatility in particular. McDonald also led all tight ends at the NFL scouting combine with 31 reps on the bench press.

"He's 260-plus pounds, he's got a huge wingspan, he's got big hands," Baalke said. "He lines up all over the place. He lines up a little bit in the backfield. He lines up on the line of scrimmage. He lines up in the wing position, off the line of scrimmage. And he also lines up outside. He's smart, he's tough and he is a good fit within our system."
The second day of the 2013 NFL draft has come and gone. The chart below recaps picks for NFC West teams. I'll have more as the night progresses, of course.

The San Francisco 49ers have addressed their top three needs methodically during the first two days of the 2013 NFL draft.

After drafting safety Eric Reid and defensive lineman Tank Carradine, the 49ers added a twist before taking Rice tight end Vance McDonald. They traded into the 55th slot, leaping over division-rival Seattle, which was scheduled to pick 56th. Coincidence? One division rival messing with another? You decide.

The Seahawks then traded the 56th pick to Baltimore for the 62nd, 165th and 199th picks. Seattle was either proceeding as it would have done anyway or, if you're into the divisional subterfuge narrative, they were telling the 49ers they didn't want to pick in that range anyway. So there.

That 199th pick Seattle acquired from the Ravens belonged originally to ... the 49ers. Baltimore acquired it in the Anquan Boldin trade.

SPONSORED HEADLINES

Roster Advisor