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Mike Tomlin on trade for Vance McDonald: Steelers TEs “not consistently varsity enough”

Baltimore Ravens v San Francisco 49ers

SANTA CLARA, CA - OCTOBER 18: Tight end Vance McDonald #89 of the San Francisco 49ers reacts after a touchdown by wide receiver Torrey Smith #82 during their NFL game against the Baltimore Ravens at Levi’s Stadium on October 18, 2015 in Santa Clara, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

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Steelers coach Mike Tomlin didn’t sugar coat it when asked about the team’s trade for Vance McDonald on Tuesday. Of the Steelers’ trio of tight ends, Tomlin said they were “not consistently varsity enough.”

He then called McDonald an “NFL-caliber tight end.”

“We’re not going to anoint him in any way,” Tomlin said, via Jeremy Fowler of ESPN. “We’re going to put him in uniform like the rest of them and continue to allow them to sort themselves out. It’s reasonable to expect the guys that are here to respond positively in the right way to his presence and elevate their play.”

Jesse James, Xavier Grimble and David Johnson have combined for 89 career catches for 816 yards and seven touchdowns. McDonald made 64 catches for 866 yards and seven touchdowns in his four seasons with the 49ers, who made him a second-round pick in 2013.

Fowler speculated that McDonald and James eventually could split first-team reps, with Grimble as a situational tight end and Johnson remaining as a key blocker. That is if the Steelers choose to keep four tight ends.