With the loss of Delanie Walker in free agency, the 49ers made sure to get another versatile tight end, selecting Rice's Garrett Celek 55th overall in the 2013 NFL Draft.
McDonald lined up at slot receiver for the Owls before being moved to a more traditional tight end role last season.
Here's a transcript of his confernce call with the local media.
Did you have any inkling the 49ers were going to take you?
"I did not. I knew going into the draft that there was always a chance. The couple of teams that hinted at it a little more than the others. But, after talking to some people close and my agent and family, I just kind of had the feeling that it was going to be someone just coming out of left field and grabbing me up. And I'd say that's pretty much what happened here."
I know that you've played a lot of receiver and now you're 267 pounds. What weight were you when you were playing receiver?
"I've actually always been around that weight. Junior year, that was when I was pretty much only in the slot. But, even then I was 265, 260-265 is what I've been the whole season. So, feeling confident in my abilities to be developed however San Francisco decides. But, I'm excited."
How much inline blocking have you done?
"Well, yeah that was the good thing this past senior year being moved back into inline to playing the true tight end traditional position. So, I know I'm very under-developed and I have a lot of raw potential. And that's one area that I have put a lot of emphasis on in terms of my development there at Rice. I can only imagine with this next step that I'm going to improve significantly."
Did you get a chance to watch a lot of the 49ers and see that offense last year?
"It's an exciting one to be a part of. Going in with all the success that they've had. It's just awesome to know I'll be a part of it."
Are you prepared to catch QB Colin Kaepernick's passes? Because you know he throws the ball incredibly hard.
"Absolutely. It'll certainly be different. There are a lot of things that you know you're going to have to get used to with whatever organization you go into. And with Colin throwing fireballs, I'm sure they'll be compared to what I'm used to there in college here at Rice. But, it's going to be a learning curve, not just with that but with everything. So, I'm extremely ready."
What was your interaction with the 49ers in the pre-draft run up?
"I talked to one of their scouts there. He came to Rice to see me and visit with me. And I talked to him. I also talked to him at the combine and had an interview with them as well. And it went really well. But, yeah just with the first question they asked, I was very surprised to be talking to San Francisco on the phone a couple minutes ago. It's just awesome to know that I know where I'm going now."
Did you meet with 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh at the combine?
"Yes ma'am, I met with many people on their staff there at the combine."
Just to be clear, how much did you play wide receiver in the slot and then tight end in college? Did you kind of bounce around?
"Yeah, well junior year for personnel reasons, I moved out into the slot the entire year. And here from this past senior season it was probably 50/50. I would play split out and then again with my hand on the line. So, it was a real balanced amount of most inline and split."
Well, having said that, did you follow former 49ers TE Delanie Walker at all last year. He seemed to do a lot of different things for this team. Did you see similarity between you and he?
"I didn't follow Delanie and his role in the offense. I know he was an unbelievable athlete and a great player for San Francisco this past season. Something I know that I'm very confident in my ability is just being able to play all over the field. I did play slot a bit at Rice, played inline. But, I've also lined up in the backfield and taken reverses from flank position off the ball. So, I'm very confident that whenever I get there and I'm developed and told and coached to do, that I'll be able to perform the way that they're wanting."
Was there any special teams discussion when you were talking to the 49ers?
"I don't recall. I do know that special teams was not something that was emphasized at Rice for our players that got a higher number of reps. But, I'm extremely ready if that's something that needs to be filled and I need to do it, then I'm very welcomed. Any time I can get out on the field, I'm fine."
Where are you right now?
"I'm at home in Winnie, Texas and just enjoying the moment with my family and some close friends. It's just a very fun and awesome atmosphere here."
How would you rate your skills as a blocker? I've seen you kind of viewed as being above average in that area.
"Compared to the draft class here, I would say I'm above average just because we have so many dynamic guys coming out of this draft. I do know that while I was there at Rice, that we know the philosophies we taught there and the fundamentals may be different than when I go to San Francisco. Like I was saying earlier, I just know that I'm extremely underdeveloped in that regard and I know I have a lot of potential. I think I have the right size and frame in order to handle that responsibility, but I'm ready to take the challenge."
More to come on 49ers.com.