On April 28, Vance McDonald’s mom, Beverly, approached her son with some shocking news: According to a report, the 49ers were shopping McDonald in trade talks during the NFL draft.
On Tuesday, the tight end who signed a five-year contract extension in December was asked about his initial reaction to the bombshell. Did his heart sink?
“No,” McDonald said, “I still had my best-man speech to do.”
Yes, McDonald got the news at his brother’s wedding in Austin, Texas. And a few hours after he delivered the speech, the best man heard a speech, of sorts, from new head coach Kyle Shanahan to explain why he was candidate to be an odd man out.
Shanahan has told reporters the 49ers were initially approached by another team about trading McDonald and they subsequently inquired with other teams to gauge their interest in the 2013 second-round pick. Shanahan said the 49ers viewed it as an opportunity to upgrade the roster and he clearly expressed the same sentiments to McDonald.
“If you’re a 2-14 team, there’s a lot of things you can improve on,” McDonald said. “… So if teams are going to call and inquire about you, then obviously the next step is going to be see what it requires for the trade. And you’re going to call around to every other team. So that’s exactly what happened for me. It wasn’t like they don’t want me here. There was never a lack of communication on any level.”
After speaking with McDonald after the second day of the draft, Shanahan met with him in person in Santa Clara three days later. McDonald said he appreciated how Shanahan handled the situation.
“He’s been in a draft room for 48 hours at that point,” McDonald said. “I’m sure he was worn out and he’s calling me on his way home. The first thing I told him was ‘Man, there’s not a lot of coaches that would do this.’”
McDonald has been plagued by injuries and inconsistent hands during his career, although he posted career-highs in yards (391), touchdowns (4) and yards per reception (16.4) in 11 games last year.
The 49ers drafted Iowa tight end George Kittle in the fifth round. They also gave $100,000 guaranteed to Louisville’s Cole Hikutini, an undrafted rookie.
McDonald understands he has plenty of competition to retain his starting spot. And he plans to keep the outlook he adopted when his mom told him he was the subject of trade discussions.
“As soon as I heard it, I had the mindset that this isn’t going to change anything and I’m going to end up where I end up,” McDonald said. “I’m just going to continue what I’m doing – and that’s do everything I can to be a better football player.”