Then-49ers general manager Trent Baalke made the announcement on Dec. 9 that the organization had secured free-agent-to-be Vance McDonald to a long-term contract.

In a statement, Baalke, who would be fired three weeks later, said of the tight end:

"Vance has shown consistent growth throughout his four-year career and his production this season is the result of his dedication and hard work. We believe he has only scratched the surface of what he will be able to accomplish in his career. Vance is a tremendous ambassador for the 49ers, and his passion for helping others provides a wonderful example for this organization. We look forward to his continued contributions to this organization, both on and off the field.”

If McDonald had remained for the duration of the five-year contract and played in every game, he would have earned $32.5 million from the 49ers.

Instead, the 49ers paid McDonald a signing bonus of $7 million for never playing another snap with the team. The rest of the money he receives will come from the Pittsburgh Steelers.

On Tuesday, McDonald was traded to the Steelers for an exchange of draft picks. The 49ers receive Pittsburgh’s fourth-round pick in 2018, while the 49ers sent their 2018 fifth-round selection to the Steelers.

“It’s tough to look at your owner, who just gave Vance a big deal last year, and say, ‘Hey, we feel like we’re going to move in a different direction,’ because he was paid a bunch of money,” 49ers general manager John Lynch said Wednesday on KNBR.

 

“But that’s also understood that when a new regime comes in, they’re going to see things differently. We saw the best fit for our organization was to do something.”

The McDonald trade ties in with the 49ers’ draft-day deal with the Denver Broncos. The 49ers are back in the fourth round of the 2018 draft after sending their pick to the Broncos. Here’s how the two trades fit together:

49ERS RECEIVE
--Running back Kapri Bibbs (from Denver)
--Wide receiver Trent Taylor (in trade with Denver for 2017 fifth-round pick)
--2018 fourth-round pick (from Pittsburgh)

49ERS GIVE UP
--TE Vance McDonald (to Pittsburgh)
--2018 fourth-round pick (to Denver)
--2018 fifth-round pick (to Pittsburgh)

* * *

49ERS 2018 DRAFT PICKS
1. First round: Own pick
2. Second round: Own pick
3. Second round: New Orleans pick acquired in 2017 draft-day trade
4. Third round: Own pick
5. Third round: Chicago pick acquired in 2017 draft-day trade
6. Fourth round: Pittsburgh pick acquired in 2017 trade of Vance McDonald
7. Sixth round: Own pick
8. Seventh round: Own pick
9. Seventh round: Kansas City pick acquired in 2016 trade of Kenneth Acker