The San Francisco 49ers are coming off a 5-11 season and will have their third coach in the last three seasons after firing Jim Tomsula and bringing in Chip Kelly. That kind of turnover is not often synonymous with success as was the case for San Fran this past year.
“It definitely adds to the difficulty of having success. You definitely would prefer an environment that is stable and familiar,” said Vance McDonald, tight end for the San Francisco 49ers on CBS Sports Radio’s After Hours with Amy Lawrence. “It’s unfortunate with Coach Tomsula, I know he was loved by me and he was loved by a lot of the guys on the team, but it’s just the business of the NFL. I’m excited about Chip Kelly.”
Kelly was run out of Philadelphia in the final weeks of the regular season amidst reports of dissension in the locker room and with the front office. Entering a new situation in San Francisco, what were McDonald’s first impressions of the new head coach?
“He’s definitely very intellectual, a very sharp guy. Of course, I’ve heard that and he had a lot on his mind that’s for sure,” said McDonald. “It’ll be great having him out here and it will be interesting to see how we move forward with the offense and the team in general.”
From there the conversation turned to the concussion issue in the NFL. The 49ers in particular are familiar with this topic after linebacker Chris Borland retired before last season after just one season in the league due to concerns about head trauma and its long-term effects. Does McDonald share those same fears?
“I had a concussion this season, so speaking from experience, it was in Chicago and I was brought back and I had a lot of people look at me. Different staff and personnel just evaluating me, but it is a scary thing,” said McDonald. “But, the NFL’s moving to that spot where it’s safety first and are trying to protect their players because that’s their asset. The NFL is just going to become more and more safe, which I guess is positive news for us players.”
When it comes to concussions we’ve heard multiple former and current players talk about hiding them from coaches. Is that something McDonald himself has done?
“It is what it is, guys are going to be competitive. I can honestly and truthfully say that I’ve probably suffered some minor concussions and it didn’t affect me in any way like motor skill wise or functioning and physical movement,” said McDonald. “You just kind of brush it off, it’s just a hard hit in football. It’s a thing that I give up for the game that I love and I just want to be competitive so I kind of move past it. But, there’s definitely a serious one like this past season where I definitely didn’t feel right. I just hope that every player in every position that they’re in that they would be able to step forward and say ‘you know what, I need to stop’ because it is very serious.”