49ers: Vance McDonald, Starting Right Where He Left Off

San Francisco 49ers tight end Vance McDonald is starting right where he left off, a week before the end of last season against the Detriot Lions, scoring touchdowns.

 

Vance McDonald was ascending towards the end of the season on a high note against the Detriot Lions with a touchdown catch.

Can we say “Déjà Vu”?

McDonald entered 2016 preseason game against the Houston Texans at home and scored a touchdown on a 43-yard strike by Blaine Gabbert.

Game stats: McDonald finishes with two catches for 54 yards and a touchdown.

What probably impresses more was his run after the catch as he eluded defenders in the open field while showcasing his athletic ability all the way to the end zone.

 

McDonald echoed some of those same sentiments in his words, via the team’s website.

“My initial thought was just to run him over,” McDonald said of his first-quarter touchdown in Sunday night’s preseason opener. “Then I decided to try and run around him, and it ended up working out.”

Statistics recap: McDonald in three years has totaled just 40 career catches, 475 receiving yards, with an 11.9 yards-per-catch career average and three touchdowns, per ESPN.com.

 

Can we say limited opportunities?

Here are McDonald’s snap percentages played on offense:

2013 — 48.34 percent
2014 — 18.32 percent
2015 — 46.29 percent

When it comes to Vance McDonald, the flashes of playmaking ability has been there, the athletic ability has been there, he just hasn’t had the opportunities to “shine” and of course, there are the issues with his lack of concentration with drops over his career.

Here’s what his new tight ends coach Jeff Nixon had to say on his assessment of McDonald. Per Grant Cohn of the Santa Rosa Press Democrat:

 

The sky is the limit for Vance. He’s very talented. He has the size and the speed. I think most of his drops sometimes are a little bit of a lack of concentration, because he does have good hands. But I’m expecting a big year out of Vance. He finished up the year strong. I think the last three or four games he had at least five catches in each of those games. We’re looking for him to take off right from where he left off last year, being a big-play tight-end target for us in the pass game.

 

Final thoughts on Vance McDonald:

Vance is a matchup nightmare at 6′ 4″ and 267 lbs. With this ideal size, he is athletic and possesses an underrated speed for a man of his size.

49er fans have been waiting for the former second-round pick in the 2013 draft, out of Rice, to finally put it all together. The 2016 season is a contract year for McDonald, and so far he is off to a great start.

FYI: Tight end Garrett Celek‘s starting position may not be safe.

All records, statistics, and accolades are courtesy of Pro-Football-Reference.com, Pro Football Focus, 49ers.com, ESPN.com, NFL.com unless otherwise indicated.