Vance McDonald Jumps Out


Garrett Celek didn't like being sidelined for more than a week.

San Francisco's rookie tight end didn't play in the second preseason game, a win over the Kansas City Chiefs, but he did return in a big way in San Francisco's recent victory over the Minnesota Vikings.

McDonald made sure to jump out of the stat sheet in the 49ers preseason win.

San Francisco's second-round pick did so by showing tremendous athleticism for a 6-foot-4, 267-pound tight end on a play-action bootleg.

After a Colt McCoy fake hand-off to LaMichael James, McDonald caught a 15-yard pass in the right flat and then did something seldom seen from a man of his size. McDonald immediately hurdled Vikings safety Jamarca Sanford and then quickly lowered his shoulders while colliding into cornerback Josh Robinson.

McDonald, however, wasn't pleased with how he finished the play.

After reviewing the film, he recognized something could have been done better.

"Poor ball security," McDonald said. "That's the first thing. You gotta be aware of that. I'm making note of it and I'm gonna change it. "

San Francisco's No. 2 tight end noted that he's "trying to make plays" to help his team, but understood that leaping efforts like the one against Minnesota aren't worth it if ball security is compromised.

McDonald finished the game with two receptions for 24 yards, giving him a total of six catches and 90 yards in the preseason to date. Despite missing one game, McDonald leads the 49ers in the preseason in catches and receiving yards.

The production would have been higher if not for an undisclosed injury sidelining the 23-year-old tight end in the 49ers preseason road game in Kansas City.

"I felt like I had a lot of ground to make up," McDonald set of his setback. "That's pretty much what I was focused on, trying to maintain what I did in game one and fix the mistakes I had.

"Moving forward from there, I'm trying to build on what I did last night."

McDonald expects to see a lot more action in San Francisco's preseason road finale against the San Diego Chargers on Thursday night.

McDonald doesn't foresee Vernon Davis playing very long, if at all. It that's the case, McDonald is focused on continuing to prepare himself for the tough competition he'll face in the regular season.

"It's the last game before Vernon takes the majority of the snaps," McDonald began. "Any kind of techniques or little things the coaches have you work on, I'm trying to get them all down."

So while McDonald has shown a knack for making tough catches and athletic plays after the catch, the finer details of his game will be refined through his battles in the trenches.

Blocking, in particular, is a big part of McDonald's development in the pro game. So far, he's handling the responsibilities quite well.

"That's something that has improved," McDonald said. "Coach (Greg) Roman and Coach (Reggie) Davis have been trying to work with me on it every day."

San Diego will be the latest opportunity for McDonald to hone his blocking talents before a grueling 16-game regular season schedule.

"I'll be going against some big guys here in the season," McDonald said. "It's something I'm trying to work on."

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