Vance McDonald will never be a great tight end in the NFL. You’d think he was a backup quarterback with how strong some folks feel about him, but I doubt he’ll ever be anything more for the San Francisco 49ers than he has been to this point.
But he’s not terrible, I’ll give him that. More than that, he’s even decent.
That’s about as charitable as I get, unfortunately. McDonald had an excellent 75-yard catch-and-run touchdown against the Carolina Panthers in Week 2, but when McDonald giveth, McDonald taketh away. He also had some bad drops (and he wasn’t the only one, but we’ll get to that a bit later.
McDonald is a maddening player. He has more awareness than Vernon Davis ever had when running routes, but hands of actual stone that simply cannot hold on to the simplest passes. McDonald has shown this tendency since he was a rookie and it’s not going away.
He’ll give you this:
There's nothing overly special about the touchdown in the .gif above (which is of lower quality on purpose because it's very straightforward, mind you). He gets behind the right guys, he catches a past and he runs as fast as his legs will carry him all the way to a touchdown. It's a VERY GOOD THING from a player who is short on VERY GOOD THINGS these days.
And then he’ll give you this ... because this is just what McDonald does:
That's McDonald dropping a wide open pass that was well-placed. It's a trend for him. He does it a lot. This isn't something that happens once every few games. It happens every single game. This is another pass that could easily go for a touchdown if he catches it.
But at least McDonald isn't alone, right?
No big deal, that's second-year tight end Blake Bell, who apparently has started to attend the Vance McDonald School of Catching. This ball bounces right off his hands and then Bell, for some reason, looks like he's going to ... engage the Panthers player in a block? For some reason? I have no idea what he's trying to do at the end of that play, but it's disappointingly hilarious.
But at least it's just the tight ends with this problem.
Seriously? For [site decorum]'s sake. That's running back Shaun Draughn on the exact same drive dropping an easy pass. I'd also like to point out that Quinton Patton had a wide open drop and Gabbert missed at least four passes because he threw them directly at the ground. So really, the 49ers are screwed no matter what happens in the passing game.