San Francisco 49ers: Position Battles Highlight Preseason Opener

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Tight Ends

Aug 25, 2013; San Francisco, CA, USA; San Francisco 49ers tight end Vance McDonald (89) runs after receiving the ball against the Minnesota Vikings during the third quarter at Candlestick Park. The San Francisco 49ers defeated the Minnesota Vikings 34-14. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Vance McDonald didn’t quite fill the void Delanie Walker left when he signed with the Tennessee Titans. Walker was an under-appreciated member of the 2012 NFC Champion 49ers team, as he always blocked well for the run-first 49ers.

Nonetheless, McDonald still holds down second-string duties behind Vernon Davis. McDonald struggled to make much of an impact as a rookie last season, as he caught only eight passes.

However, there will be less pressure on him this season with all the ball-catchers at San Francisco’s disposal. Hopefully for the 49ers, he can focus on becoming an elite run-blocker and then slowly incorporate a complete offensive game.

McDonald will have a tough task blocking against Baltimore’s front seven who — although weaker than their Super Bowl year — can still put plenty of pressure on an offensive line.

Behind McDonald sits Garrett Celek (who is currently on the PUP list) and Derek Carrier, who are both unlikely to get much regular season action.