The most common complaint about McDonald is his propensity to drop catchable passes — his “stone hands” nickname was well-deserved after he dropped over a quarter of the limited passes thrown his way during his first two seasons.
The 49ers used to have a tight end with the same nickname. Niner fans know that by spending hours of practice with a JUGGS machine, and then making the catch of a lifetime, a player can lose that “stone hands” nickname and become a legend.
Hopefully McDonald is putting in the work necessary to improve his hands and drop rate.
Last month, David Neumann, of Better Rivals Podcast and Pro Football Focus fame, stoked the “Cut McDonald” fire when he tweeted about McDonald’s career 15.8 percent drop rate:
McDonald has improved his drop rate since the beginning of his career; he dropped 11.1 percent of his catchable passes in 2016.
Still, McDonald drops too many passes. Unfortunately for the 49ers, their other tight ends are even worse.
Celek dropped 14.7 percent of his catchable targets in 2016, which was the worst drop rate among all tight ends.
In 2016, Bell dropped a third of his catchable pass opportunities, and newcomer Paulsen dropped a quarter of his catchable targets.
If the 49ers cut McDonald for his drops, they’ll have to cut all of their tight ends.