The San Francisco 49ers signed wide receiver Torrey Smith to a lengthy deal, providing them another shot at a strong wide receiver duo. We were hoping it would happen with Michael Crabtree and Anquan Boldin, but it never fully took form. Crabtree tore his Achilles and missed most of Boldin's first year. In 2014, Crabtree was back, but could not fully get on track. Of course, the 49ers passing offense as a whole was all over the place in 2014.
As we head into 2015, Torrey Smith joins a pass catching unit that has a lot of question marks. If Boldin holds up, we know what to expect from him. Beyond that, there are a lot of question marks. Will Vernon Davis bounce back from an awful 2014? Will Vance McDonald make any strides? What can we expect from Quinton Patton and Bruce Ellington? Oh, and of course there is also the question of Reggie Bush in the short passing game.
For today though, I thought we'd focus on the 49ers new receiver duo. Smith and Boldin have notable history together, having played on the 2011 and 2012 Baltimore Ravens. In those two seasons, the pair combined for 1,728 and 1,776 yards, respectively. Here is how the 49ers top two receivers have shaken out each of the last four seasons:
2014: 1,760 (Boldin, Crabtree)
2013: 2,029 (Boldin, Davis)
2012: 1,653 (Crabtree, Davis)
2011: 1,666 (Crabtree, Davis)
Boldin and Davis were strong in 2013, but there was not much else. Crabtree finished third among the team's receiving targets, with 284 yards after his return from injury. Bruce Miller finished with 243 yards. The fullback was the 49ers No. 3 option prior to Crabtree's return, but then had his scapula injury.
For this over/under, I'll set it at 2,000 yards combined between Smith and Boldin. You could look at both positive and negative reasons the duo would come in under 2,000 yards. The negative would be Kap struggles, the offense as a whole cannot really get going, Boldin loses it, or some other injuries factor in. The positive would be Vernon Davis and/or other wide receivers, tight ends or running backs actually emerge as viable receiving options. If the 49ers can get consistent production from other players, I would fully expect Smith and Boldin to come in under that 2,000 yard mark. The other of course would be the 49ers really going full-force with their plans on a dominant rushing attack. Whether that would be successful or not remains to be seen, but if the team leans heavily on the run game, that removes a lot of opportunities.