The San Francisco 49ers made their position coaches available to the media last week, and wide receiver coach Ronald Curry had a chance to run down the various receivers on the roster. 49ers.com appears to be the only one with quotations thus far.
Curry had a chance to run down a few of the receivers, and I wanted to pull out his comments on two receivers in particular. He talked about the speed of free agent addition Jerome Simpson, and tempered expectations on rookie free agent addition DeAndrew White.
"That's Jerome. We mess with him and tell him that he only has one speed and that's full speed. He can't even jog slow," Curry said. "He's a good guy to watch work. It's good for the young guys to sit back and watch how he works. He brings some athleticism to the team. It will be great to see how he translates from practice to OTAs to minicamp to preseason to the games."
"He was able to get his body where it needed to be before we started practicing," Curry said. "They came in and conditioned and worked out for two weeks. Then we got on the field without anyone out there. We called it ‘Class on the grass.'
"Once we got ramped up, his body was back to where everyone else was. He's a guy that's naturally built, flexible, stringy - those things that he's not going to lose. His bounce-back is a lot different than anyone else that was going to miss a year."
The 49ers brought in Torrey Smith as a deep threat, but Jerome Simpson brings serious skills when it comes to getting down the field. The 49ers have tried to bring in speedy veterans on fliers in the past, but they generally have been older players that are nearing the end of their careers. Guys like Randy Moss and Brandon Lloyd have flashed a little of their old talent, but it was not usually enough to create the consistent deep threat that could level out an inconsistent offense.
Simpson sat out the 2014 season, but it would appear he was sufficiently motivated to stay in shape. The wide receiver position is quite the numbers game, but Simpson brings veteran experience along with his raw skills. It might be enough to give him a leg up for a roster spot and playing time. I'd say he is in the strong bubble category for now.
"I think DeAndrew worked hard," Curry said. "He got better and better, but I wouldn't say he separated himself from anybody. We don't crown anyone when we're in shorts. He's worked hard, I don't want to take anything from him, but we still have a long way to go."
The 49ers signed five rookie wide receivers following the 2015 NFL Draft, and of those, DeAndrew White and Dres Anderson have gotten the most consistent praise from the media. But as Curry pointed out, this is all in shorts right now. Plenty of young players have blown teams away in shorts, and then fallen off the radar when it came time to put on pads. He would appear to have some momentum on his side, which for a UDFA is exactly what you need heading into training camp. Whether he builds on that will be one of many questions heading into training camp.