The San Francisco 49ers had to re-shuffle their wide receiver corps this week due to injuries suffered by Torrey Smith and Quinton Patton. Without their two starters, the team had to add a body to the roster, and DeAndre Smelter got the call.
Smelter was one of the notable ACL all stars that didn’t seem to work out, getting cut with an injury settlement due to a hamstring issue. The 49ers eventually added him back to the practice squad, giving the raw second year receiver an opportunity to further his craft. The Georgia Tech product played in an option heavy offense and he did not significantly develop his route-running skills, or really a lot of the things that create a successful professional. The practice squad has provided him a chance to work on a lot of these issues.
The 49ers use their wide receivers plenty, but the fifth receiver has often played just a handful of snaps. However, on Saturday, injuries at tight end left the team playing with Je’Ron Hamm and free agent pick-up Jim Dray, and thus not in a good position to utilize that position. It opened the door for a busy day for Smelter. In his NFL debut, he played 28 snaps, lining up out wide for 24 snaps and in the slot for four snaps, per Pro Football Focus. 16 of the 28 snaps were pass plays, but he was not targeted on any of them.
The 49ers wrap up the season this week against the Seattle Seahawks. The Seahawks will be sending out their starters in full force because they still have a shot at a first round bye if Atlanta (playing at the same time) and Detroit (playing on Sunday Night Football) lose. The Seahawks strong secondary will give the 49ers passing game a serious test. The New York Jets proved even the worst secondary can give the 49ers passing game a test, but it will still be interesting to see how someone like Smelter can do against a tough matchup. And maybe he will get some targets this time around.