Fantasy Impact This is bigger news than most realize, as the Steelers one offensive skill-position that lacked a game-breaking potential was tight end. James caught 39 passes for 338 yards and three touchdowns on 60 targets previous year, producing just 8.7 yards per catch and 5.6 per target.
The 49ers tried to trade McDonald during the draft and were open about the discussions they had.
While the final two years of McDonald's contract were club options, the Niners would have owed him base salaries of $3.7 million in 2018 and $4.2 million in 2019 after former general manager Trent Baalke signed him to the extension.
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Rookie George Kittle's emergence this year likely helped convince the 49ers McDonald was expendable. The 49ers drafted tight end George Kittle out of Iowa in the fifth round of the 2017 National Football League draft and have Logan Paulsen, Garrett Celek and Blake Bell on the roster, so depth at tight end isn't an issue. He missed 16 games because of injuries during his tenure.
"We would like to thank Vance for his contributions to this organization on the field and in the community over the last four seasons", general manager John Lynch said in a statement.
McDonald, who was drafted by the 49ers in the second-round of the 2013 NFL Draft out of Rice, has caught 64 passes for 866 yards and seven touchdowns so far during his NFL career. "We wish the McDonald family all the best as they move on to a new opportunity in Pittsburgh".
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