The San Francisco 49ers drafted wide receiver DeAndre Smelter in the fourth round, following an ACL tear last November. On Friday, Smelter met with the media and provided an update on his knee. He said he is running straight, but not cutting yet. He was throwing the football around on Friday, but he has spent the week working in the weight room and doing rehab work.
Trent Baalke talked about Smelter's rehab on the last day of the draft, and did not think "medical redshirt" was necessarily the right phrase. Here is what he said following the pick:
He should be ready to go. It all depends what he looks like when he gets in here, what we need to do to get him rehabbed and ready to go. But it's a situation where he may not be ready for training camp, but he may be ready at some point in the immediate future after that. We just got to get our hands on him, see exactly where he's at. But feel confident that the rehab is going very well up to this point. We'll see what we're dealing with when we get our hands on him.
My guess is Smelter opens training camp on the NFI list. He cannot participate in practice with the rest of the team. He can do rehab and strength/conditioning work, and observe practice, but he can't take part in the full practice. Conceivably he could be good to go at some point during training camp, but given his rookie status it still seems more likely to get the extra year in terms of restricted vs. unrestricted free agency.
Of course, if they are convinced he is 100 percent then you might as well roll him out there and add one more weapon to Colin Kaepernick's arsenal. I've attached a poll below. Do you think Smelter ends up on the 53-man roster at some point this season, or will he be a season-long NFI guy?