Steelers acquire TE Vance McDonald in trade with 49ers

1:44 PM ET

  • CloseESPN Staff Writer
    • ESPN staff writer
    • Previously a college football contributor for
    • University of Florida graduate
  • CloseESPN Staff Writer
    • Covered Rams for 9 years for
    • Previously lonesome University of Missouri football
    • Member of Pro Football Writers of America

The San Francisco 49ers have traded parsimonious finish Vance McDonald and a fifth-round collect in subsequent year’s breeze to a Pittsburgh Steelers in sell for a fourth-round pick, a teams announced Tuesday.

McDonald, who sealed a three-year, $19.7 million agreement prolongation with a Niners in December, had career highs in receiving yards (391), yards per accepting (16.29) and touchdowns (four) in 11 games final deteriorate before pang a shoulder injury.

The merger reinforces a Steelers’ need for playmaking during parsimonious finish given Heath Miller late in 2016. Last year’s examination with Ladarius Green didn’t vessel out. Jesse James and Xavier Grimble, notwithstanding display flashes, were unsuitable throwing passes in training camp.

Ben Roethlisberger likes to aim parsimonious ends in scoring range, utterly on back-shoulder throws in a behind of a finish zone. McDonald, with 7 touchdown catches given 2015, should be means to help.

Coach Mike Tomlin, who recalls fondness McDonald’s ability set entrance out of Rice in 2013, has done transparent his parsimonious finish stand indispensable an distillate of competition.

“The guys hadn’t been consistently varsity adequate for a comfort,” Steelers manager Mike Tomlin pronounced of his revolution by a initial 3 weeks of preseason games. “It’s as black and white as that. They’ve had some moments definitely and had some moments negatively. We were in a marketplace for a man who was NFL capable. McDonald is that.

“We’re not going to lubricate him in any way. We’re going to put him in uniform like a rest of them and continue to concede them to arrange themselves out. It’s reasonable to design a guys that are here to respond definitely in a right approach to his participation and rouse their play.”

The Steelers have carried 3 or 4 parsimonious ends in past years, so it’s probable James, Grimble and maestro blocker David Johnson will conflict for dual spots.

On a business side, McDonald’s agreement won’t fetter a Steelers, who will take a $4.162 million top strike in 2017 yet can shun a agreement subsequent year if peaceful to accept $4.2 million in passed money.

The Steelers haven’t had many success with new trades and wish this one plays out differently. The Steelers gave adult late-round picks to acquire a span of cornerbacks, Brandon Boykin in 2015 and Justin Gilbert in 2016. Neither actor became long-term factors for a defense.

The Niners initial began selling McDonald during breeze weekend, something manager Kyle Shanahan and ubiquitous manager John Lynch concurred during a time. Unable to find a trade partner, a 49ers hold on to McDonald, and he spent many of training stay operative with a starting offense.

But a Niners have been utterly gratified with rookie George Kittle, whom they drafted in a fifth turn this year. Kittle’s ability to retard and run routes has him staid for a large purpose and done McDonald expendable.

In trade McDonald, a 49ers will have to shoulder a leftover weight of a remunerative agreement prolongation he sealed with a group late final deteriorate underneath former ubiquitous manager Trent Baalke. The Niners contingency catch a remaining apportionment of McDonald’s $7 million signing reward on this year’s income cap, that isn’t a problem given they’ve got a many top space in a league.

A second-round collect in 2013, McDonald had issues with injuries and drops during his reign with a 49ers. He missed 16 games over 4 seasons and his 15.8 dump commission was misfortune among parsimonious ends with during slightest 75 catchable targets given 2013, according to Pro Football Focus.

McDonald had 64 catches for 866 yards and 7 touchdowns in his 4 years with a team.

“We would like to appreciate Vance for his contributions to this classification on a margin and in a village over a final 4 seasons,” Lynch pronounced in a statement. “Although we have usually famous Vance for a brief time, we fast schooled that he and his wife, Kendi, have been extensive member for a group in a village and their use to others is utterly commendable. We wish a McDonald family all a best as they pierce on to a new event in Pittsburgh.”

With McDonald on a approach out, a Niners now figure to keep Kittle along with veterans Logan Paulsen and Garrett Celek, yet Blake Bell and rookie Cole Hikutini also sojourn in a mix.

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