Now that the 2015 NFL Draft is a thing of the past, it's time to re-evaluate each position on the San Francisco 49ers' roster and how the new rookies can potentially make an impact. Of course, there's also the potential for the rookie to make no impact whatsoever, and it's in that vein that I'll probably be talking about the wide receiver.
At some point in the fourth round, I Tweeted that the 49ers made a statement about their plans at wide receiver by not taking one in the first or second day of the NFL Draft. Let me explain that further ... The 49ers have spent no shortage of mid-round picks on wide receivers in recent years, but that hasn't made them hurt any less for a receiver. They have a real need there and have had one for a long time.
Receiver is one of the most frustrating positions to be deficient at, especially for fans. Each year, we see stud rookie receivers putting up big numbers and appearing in highlight reels. When the 49ers grab a guy in the fourth round who catches 15 passes for 150 yards, it's pretty frustrating, no? The 49ers indisputably need to get one of those stud guys, and to do so, they need to be positioned right in the first round.
Trent Baalke doesn't like trading up in the first, and we saw what happens when the team picks a receiver late in the first -- it's not pretty. Yesterday, I suggested that the 49ers had already made a statement about how they feel about Torrey Smith and Anquan Boldin. The position is set for 2015, can you really argue otherwise? Those guys are starters, but the 49ers are in desperate need of help in 2016 and that's why everyone has been talking about a receiver.
It's my opinion that the 49ers absolutely know this, but that they plan to address that when the time comes, rather than worry about getting one of those "stud" guys and finding trouble getting him on the field with Smith and Boldin in town.
Now, let's not make any mistakes -- I am not writing off DeAndre Smelter by any stretch of the imagination. I know it can seem like that, given that I wrote nearly 400 words and only just mentioned his name, but I wanted to spend a little time talking about my views on the team's strategies. I think a big-name receiver is in the cards going forward, but I also think Smelter is a very interesting prospect.
Smelter has a very high ceiling, and while I don't think he was a first-round talent prior to the ACL injury that will surely keep him out for a sizable chunk or all of next season, he was certainly worth a fourth-round pick. Smelter is recovering from a torn ACL and at this point, it's pretty impossible to tell what his role will be this coming season.
But what his selection means is that the 49ers are absolutely sold on Smith and Boldin as a starting duo, and it probably speaks to confidence in Vernon Davis on top of that. But more than either of those things, it also means the team feels something when it comes to Bruce Ellington and Quinton Patton. I imagine this coming season is an opportunity for either of those guys to show something or move out of the way for another younger, better receiver in 2016.
It may sound like I'm not exactly high on Smelter but to be honest, San Francisco's ACL clinic has yet to yield any results. If the Brandon Thomas experiment does not go well this season, consider me fully against the idea going forward. Whatever the case, I'd imagine San Francisco's receivers will be fairly straightforward this season and regardless of what happens with Ellington or Patton, I expect the position to be the top need next offseason.