The 49ers made their third trade of the draft, this time trading up six slots to grab Rice tight end Vance McDonald.
As was the case Thursday, the 49ers used a high pick to replace a player who departed via free agency. Delanie Walker was in on 57 percent of the team's offensive snaps last season before signing with the Titans in March. McDonald (6-4, 262 pounds) will be expected to fill Walker's role and perhaps become a red-zone threat the 49ers have been missing in recent seasons.
In fact, McDonald and Walker have similar backgrounds. Walker played wide receiver in college before the 49ers drafted him in the sixth round in 2006. McDonald, meanwhile, was used as a slot receiver as a junior at Rice. As a senior, he was used more as a traditional tight end. He had 36 catches for 458 yards and two touchdowns last season and is a good blocker.
Asked about his blocking, McDonald said it's a work in progress. "I know I'm very underdeveloped and I have a lot of raw potential," he said from his home Winnie, Texas. "And that's (blocking) is one area I put a lot of emphasis on."
That the 49ers used the No. 55 pick on a No. 2 tight end also shows how important two-tight end sets are to the team. In a league in which three-wide receiver formations are becoming standard, the 49ers are committed to a power-based formation from which they can both run and throw.
The 49ers dealt their remaining second-round pick, No. 61, and a sixth-round pick (No. 174) to the Packers so that they could take McDonald.
-- Matt Barrows