SANTA CLARA -- The 49ers' selection of Rice tight end Vance McDonald meant the club went 3-for-3.
In their top three picks in the NFL draft, the 49ers hit on their three most obvious needs: safety, defensive line and tight end.
McDonald, who was at home with his family watching the draft in Winnie, Texas, had a feeling he'd get a surprise. And that's exactly what the 49ers provided for him on Friday evening.
"I kind of had the feeling it would be some team coming out of left field and grabbing me up, and that's pretty much what happened here," McDonald said.
He said he spoke with a 49ers scout at the NFL scouting combine and again at his pro day, but there was no indication the 49ers would invest a pick in him in the second round after tight ends Tyler Eifert, Zach Ertz and Gavin Escobar had already been selected.
The 49ers' pick of McDonald is designed to compensate for the loss of versatile Delanie Walker, who signed with the Tennessee Titans this offseason as a free agent. Like Walker, McDonald has already plenty of versatility.
McDonald (6 foot 4, 262 pounds) played slot receiver as a junior and caught 43 passes for 532 yards and five touchdowns. As a senior, he split his time in the slot and at tight end. He also took the occasional reverse, rushing for 52 yards on seven carries.
McDonald has the strength to be a strong blocker, but he was not used much in that role at Rice.
"I know I'm under-developed and have a lot of raw potential," McDonald said. "That's one area I've put a lot of emphasis on, in terms of my development. I can only imagine this next step, I'm going to improve significantly.
"I'm very confident whenever I get there developed and coach and told to do, I'll be able to perform however they want me to perform."
49ERS 2013 DRAFT PICKS
1. First round (No. 18 overall): Safety Eric Reid, LSU
2. Second round (No. 40 overall): Defensive end Cornellius "Tank" Carradine, Florida State
3. Second round (No. 55 overall): Tight end Vance McDonald, Rice
4. Third round (No. 88 overall): Defensive end/outside linebacker Corey Lemonier, Auburn
5. Fourth round (No. 128 overall): Own pick
6. Fourth round (No. 131 overall): Compensatory
7. Fifth round (No. 157 overall): From Indianapolis
8. Sixth round (No. 180 overall): From Miami
9. Seventh round (No. 237 overall): Own pick
10. Seventh round (No. 246 overall): Compensatory
11. Seventh round (No. 252 overall): Compensatory
NOTE: Compensatory picks cannot be traded.