Each year, we run a series of post called "90-in-90" here at Niners Nation. The idea is that we'll take a look at every single player on the roster, from the very bottom to the top and break them down a few different ways. This is to help give everyone a basic understanding of a roster. Of course, this roster will change, and some days we'll have more than one so it's not strictly one per day but you get the idea.
The San Francisco 49ers spent a fourth round comp pick on Georgia Tech wide receiver DeAndre Smelter. He suffered a torn ACL on November 29, 2014, and spent his rookie season on the NFI list. The team activated his practice window this past November, but there was never any chance he would actually be activated to the 53-man roster.
Smelter has great size for the position, and has solid hands. Body catches have been an issue, but some of that might be due in part to not really having extensive football experience. Prior to the NFL, he played two years of college ball, and one year of high school ball. His natural athleticism is impressive, and can be seen in his ability to play multiple sports. He was a 14th round draft pick of the Minnesota Twins, but chronic shoulder issues cost him that dream. The shoulder will be something to keep an eye on, along with the ACL recovery.
Smelter did not put up big numbers in college, but that is due in part to the Georgia Tech offense running the triple option. One upside to that run-based attack is he has shown himself to be one heck of a run blocker.
He is entering year two of his rookie contract. He will earn $450,000 in base salary, and has a cap hit of $536,422. He spent all of his rookie season on the NFI list, which means he will be a restricted free agent when his contract expires after the 2018 season (barring a contract extension). If he had played last season (and on 53-man roster for remaining three seasons), he would be an unrestricted free agent.
What to expect in 2016
The departure of Anquan Boldin opens up a huge opportunity opposite Torrey Smith. And the potential for a competent offense could mean big things for the wide receivers. It seems like there is an assumption that Quinton Patton is the early front-runner, but implementing a new offense would seem to make this fairly wide open. Smelter and Eric Rogers are the two guys that have me most intrigued, but that obviously comes in part from having nothing to compare to at this point.
If Smelter is fully recovered from his ACL injury, is there any reason to think he does not win the starting job? I suppose rust from not playing last year could be an issue, so maybe he is not starting early on. However, if the knee is 100 percent now or by the start of training camp, it would seem like a bit of a disappointment if Smelter is not getting something resembling starter-level snaps by the end of the season. He was a guy who had the talent to be drafting significantly earlier, so we'll see what this year brings.
Odds of making the roster
He's not going anywhere. I don't know if he will emerge as a starter, but I see no reason other than health that he does not make the 53-man roster.