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Vance McDonald's First NFL TD is First at Levi's® Stadium

Posted Aug 24, 2014

The second-year tight end made no apologies for his eight-catch rookie season, but he was prepared to say sorry to the person struck by his celebratory spike.


Vance McDonald didn't need to make apologies over his eight-catch rookie season, but he was prepared to say sorry after scoring the first touchdown of his NFL career on Sunday.

"I can't even tell you what happened. I was just screaming as loud as I possibly could," McDonald said after his score helped the San Francisco 49ers separate themselves in a 21-7 victory over the San Diego Chargers. "I think I need to write a letter to a camera guy, too, because I apparently hit him with the ball. I'll get that done."

Forgive McDonald for the spike. The 2013 second-round NFL Draft pick didn't reach the end zone in any of his 15 games last year.

Now he's credited with the 49ers first six-pointer in Levi's® Stadium's short history.

"And at Levi's®? Yeah, wouldn't change it for anything," said McDonald, who made three receptions for 29 yards overall. "It's a great honor, going in after we hadn't put boards on the board yet. To be that guy, I thank the team. Everyone did their job and executed. It just happened to open up that way."

McDonald caught backup quarterback Blaine Gabbert's six-yard toss on a play-action fake in the second quarter. The touchdown ended the team's two-game drought and gave it a 10-3 advantage over the visiting Chargers.

The number two tight end credited the number two signal-caller.

"I think Blaine went out there playing really confident coming off the last couple of weeks," said McDonald of Gabbert, who struggled in the 49ers first two preseason games. "He was firing the ball, and he found me open. Of course, I was happy to see that."

McDonald, for his part, has been complimented by his coaching staff for his blocking ability. Now they're seeing improvement in his hands after his lack of production in the passing game in 2013.

"Vance has had a great camp, a tremendous offseason, catching the ball very well," Jim Harbaugh said postgame. "We're all very confident in Vance."

Confidence may be the operative word here. McDonald said he never lost it in the course of his first NFL season.

"I always knew I was capable of catching the football," he said. "It was a little thing I needed to improve on. It more came down to focus... Just seeing the ball in."

The Rice product also said a second training camp learning the team's scheme has made him more comfortable on the field, on gamedays.

"I'm able to pick up coverages and hear defensive checks and calls that I'll run a route in a different way," he said. "That opens up the game a lot, it makes it a lot slower for a tight end or receiver especially."

This was the case in Sunday's second quarter when, after scoring a couple of firsts, he let loose with a spike.

Uh, where'd the ball end up after it hit the sideline photographer?

"I have no idea where it is," McDonald said. "I hope it's popped."