The 49ers announced tonight that they’ve signed tight end Vance McDonald to a five-year extension, locking him up through the 2021 campaign. The new deal is reportedly worth $35MM in total, including a $7MM signing bonus and $16MM in guarantees.
McDonald, 26, has become one of the few reliable weapons in the San Francisco offense during his fourth season in the league, and he’s already exceeded most of his career-highs with four contests still left to play. Through 10 starts, McDonald has posted 24 receptions for 391 yards and four touchdowns, the latter of which makes him the 49ers’ leader in scores. He’s split snaps this season with Garrett Celek, as both tight ends have played exactly 425 offensive snaps.
As the season comes to a close, many clubs with extra cap space will look to lock up younger players and take some of the financial hit immediately. The 49ers certainly fit that bill, as the team ranks second in the NFL with roughly $43MM in 2016 cap room. Certainly, San Francisco will carry over some of that space into 2017, but the Niners are set next year too: they rank seventh in the league with more than $46MM in projected cap room next season.
McDonald becomes the third member of the 49ers’ 2013 draft class to earn an extension, as Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee notes (Twitter link) that defenders Quinton Dial and Tank Carradine have also scored new deals. 2013 first-round safety Eric Reid has also seen his contract somewhat amended, as San Francisco has already exercised its 2017 fifth-year option on Reid.
McDonald’s new $7MM annual average places him near the bottom of the second tier of tight end contracts, and puts him directly between Coby Fleener and Delanie Walker in per year salary. McDonald’s reported guarantee of $16MM would rank third among tight ends, which likely means that the figure refers to an injury-only — rather than a full — guarantee.
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