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How many snaps will 49ers tight end Vance McDonald play in his rookie season?

The San Francisco 49ers will need to lean on their tight ends with injuries to their wide receivers -- how many snaps will rookie Vance McDonald be in on?

Jason O. Watson

With the injury to wide receiver Michael Crabtree, the San Francisco 49ers will have to get creative in the passing game. Anquan Boldin is a proven receiver, but he's definitely slowing down, and the rest of the group is young, unproven or recovering from significant injuries. There's a lot that could go wrong.

Looking squarely at the wide receiver position, you might even say the 49ers could be in trouble. But if you include the tight end position, things get a lot more interesting.

Vernon Davis is, without a doubt, one of the premier receiving tight ends in the NFL. Word out of the most recent minicamp was that Davis was seeing an awful lot of time at receiver, but then again, that could be more due to the fact that it was all strictly non-contact, and Davis wouldn't have really benefited from extensive time doing blocking drills.

Still, the 49ers figure to use Davis as a receiver more than they did last season. For whatever reason, they got away from doing that in a big way, and while I love Davis' blocking as much as the next guy, I think it was a mistake.

Then we turn to Vance McDonald. I think the 49ers have big plans for him. They want him to do what Delanie Walker did ... only better. I think we saw the team show a little bit of reluctance to play their rookies last season, but I don't see that happening with McDonald.

McDonald has all the tools to be an excellent blocker and a very productive pass-catcher. He's not all that raw, he's smart and I'd say he's got the chops to take significant snaps in week one, though he'll likely have to show his stuff in the preseason, first.

Last season, Davis was in on 942 snaps, while Walker was in on 589 snaps. I personally believe that Davis will be in on every snap he possibly can. He'll be in on 1,000-plus snaps. But what of McDonald, the rookie?

In my opinion, McDonald will see a good amount of snaps. I'd expect him to exceed the 589 snaps that Walker was in on. It's been awhile since a 49ers rookie has seen that much action, but I think McDonald could even hit 700 or 750. I was wondering what the rest of you thought about that. What are your expectations for McDonald, and how many snaps will he have?

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