Speaking with reporters, Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said the move to acquire McDonald was, in part, motivated by the team's current crop of tight ends not being "not consistently varsity enough."
"We're going to put him in uniform like the rest of them and continue to allow them to sort themselves out," Tomlin said about the team's tight ends. "It's reasonable to expect the guys that are here to respond positively in the right way to his presence and elevate their play."
In four years with the 49ers, McDonald has started 30 games, snagging 64 receptions for 866 yards and seven touchdowns. The former second-round pick signed a five-year $35 million contract extension with San Francisco in December. The new regime has attempted to trade the 27-year-old this offseason. They finally found a taker.
An already potent Pittsburgh offense just upgraded a position of need ahead of the season opener, moving down a single round in the draft to add a potential playmaking weapon to their tight-end room. McDonald should push Jesse James for playing time as soon as he gets up to speed.