Vance McDonald was a second-round pick of the San Francisco 49ers, and he spent half of his career there, but he is retiring as a member of the Pittsburgh Steelers, and while I’m sure he has fond memories of his time on the west coast, it will be his last four years in the league that he will remember most.
The Steelers acquired him via trade in August of 2017, and he spent the past four seasons here. That included his ‘breakout’ 2018 season, in which he caught 50 passes for 610 yards and four touchdowns, all of those numbers representing career highs.
“I don’t think that it’s without reason that I got not only traded here with my family and I, but we fell in love with this place”, he said during his retirement press conference. “I fell in love with being a Steeler. I fell in love with Pittsburgh. I fell in love with the city. I fell in love with all the people. Not only planting our home, but starting a ministry here, I truly believe that God had his hand on us the entire time”.
McDonald is retiring at the age of 30, having made more than $28 million over the course of his eight-year playing career between San Francisco and Pittsburgh. He is getting out of the game with plenty of time left to live his best life and commit himself to his passions beyond football.
Over the course of his career, he registered 181 receptions for 2036 yards and 15 touchdowns. In his four years in Pittsburgh, he caught 117 passes for 1170 yards and eight touchdowns. He only had just 15 catches for 99 yards and no touchdowns in 2020, during which he transitioned into a blocking role to give way to Eric Ebron.
His willingness to do that was no doubt tied at least in part to his love for the team and his teammates and the city, and like many players before who came here in free agency or via trade, has opted to stay in Pennsylvania for the long term.
He bought a large property about 15 minutes away from Latrobe where he and his wife will embark on their next mission, something that they have been planning for some time, and his time logged in the NFL and in Pittsburgh are what led him to being able to take this next step in his life.