The San Francisco 49ers are in their bye week after playing seven games on their 2016 regular season schedule. Well, I can just call it their 2016 schedule, because there will not be any playoffs this year. Whatever the case, the team is just under halfway through their schedule, so the timing of the bye works for providing some midseason thoughts on the roster.
The team has a ton of question marks heading into the second half of the season, and the potential of a new general manager after the season means roster predictions are tough to assess. That being said, I thought we’d look at each position group and consider where it currently stands, who the teams own free agents are next year, and what the draft class looks like. This afternoon, we take a look at the wide receivers.
Depth chart: Torrey Smith, Quinton Patton, Jeremy Kerley, Rod Streater, Aaron Burbridge, Keshawn Martin
Practice squad: DeAndre Smelter, Chris Harper
Injured reserve: Eric Rogers, Bruce Ellington
Torrey Smith: 13 rec, 199 yards, 2 TDs
Quinton Patton: 19 rec, 187 yards
Jeremy Kerley: 30 rec, 331 yards, 2 TDs
Rod Streater: 3 rec, 48 yards
Aaron Burbridge: 2 rec, 20 yards
Keshawn Martin: N/A
Where things stand
Oh boy, what a mess. The 49ers have a deep threat in Torrey Smith who they rarely target deep. The team acquired Jeremy Kerley in the preseason, and he has managed to be decent. Of course, if the team had a dominant 1 and maybe a decent 2 ahead of Kerley, he would look considerably better. Instead, he has been the 49ers most productive wide receiver. And even that has come to an end with the switch from Blaine Gabbert to Colin Kaepernick.
The biggest problems for the position are Trent Baalke’s inability to draft quality wide receivers, and injuries to Eric Rogers and Bruce Ellington. We know Ellington is injury prone, but I had high expectations for Rogers. The CFL’s leading receiver in 2015, Rogers had the size and skill-set to potentially provide a serious complement to Torrey Smith in Chip Kelly’s offense. He went down with a torn ACL, and we have to wait for next season to see what he can do.
The big news now is Tuesday’s 1:00 p.m. PT trade deadline. The 49ers are rumored to be shopping Smith, with the Eagles described as a suitor. The first reports were a week ago, followed by attempts on both sides to quash the rumors. Sunday saw Pro Football Talk reporting that talks were still alive. We’ll find out Tuesday afternoon what this all means.
49ers 2017 free agents
We’ll get some kind of resolution with Torrey Smith. For the rest of this season, I would at some point like to see DeAndre Smelter promoted from the practice squad. He is a raw route runner, so there is plenty for him to learn, but with this season going down the tubes quickly, I wouldn’t mind seeing him tossed into the deep end.
The next step is next offseason, figuring out what exactly to do at the position. If Smith is around, I see less money spent in free agency, but there could be some decent options. Then it’s a matter of figuring out what to do about the draft. If the team has a new general manager, we’ll get to see what kind of strategy he pursues in the 2017 NFL Draft. If Baalke somehow survives this dumpster fire of a season, I assume we’re in store for more day three wide receiver picks.
2017 NFL Draft top 10 prospects
JuJu Smith-Schuster, USC
Mike Williams, Clemson
John Ross, Washington
Isaiah Ford, Virginia Tech
Corey Davis, Western Michigan
Dede Westbrook, Oklahoma
Travis Rudolph, Florida State
Cooper Kupp, Eastern Washington
James Washington, Oklahoma State
Artavis Scott, Clemson