For the last two years, Greg Roman moved Walker around like a chess piece for opponents to defend. Walker lined up tight in formations, he split out wide and could also be found in the backfield at times. He was asked to block Ndamukong Suh and beat safeties deep. He created mismatches.
With Walker's departure to Tennessee, it didn't take the 49ers long to find their new jack-of-all-trades.
Enter Rice tight end Vance McDonald.
"We lost Delanie Walker who did a great job for us here at the 49ers and it kind of opened up a spot," the 49ers offensive coordinator noted. "That spot has become a pretty versatile position, a player that can do a lot of different things at a high level."
With the second tight end position being so valuable in the San Francisco's offense, Roman sees McDonald as a play-maker.
"He's a guy you can split out and use as a weapon," Roman said. "It's not just window dressing. He can play all over the field and loves the game of football. We're really excited to have him."
McDonald impressed at the Scouting Combine, putting up 31 reps in the bench press, the most for any tight end in Indianapolis this year. He also posted a 4.69, 40-yard dash, which ranked fifth in his position group.
"There's very few guys who are 6-4, 267 that can play inline at a high level and play split out at a high level or in the backfield at a high level," Roman said. "He's a guy that's unique in that regard."
Roman, who has a reputation of finding creative ways to utilize tight ends, once again has a very talented group.
"We've got four tight ends we feel very good about. Vernon (Davis) is arguably one of the best in the league for quite a while now." Roman said. "We're getting really excited about it and it's going to be great to get back out on the field pretty shortly. I think at the tight end position, we like guys who can do a lot of things well."