The San Francisco 49ers wide receiver position is fairly wide open after Torrey Smith, and DeAndre Smelter is one of many options to start. Quinton Patton is likely the front-runner for now, but Smelter, Eric Rogers, and others are going to get some opportunities throughout the offseason.
Smelter met with the media on Tuesday following practice (transcript below). He did not have a lot to say, but one notable thing was the discussion of his lack of experience. He played one year of football in high school, but initially was focused on baseball at Georgia Tech. He played some football, but had a chance to turn himself into a pro baseball player. Shoulder issues ended his baseball career, and he returned his focus to football. He played all 13 games as a junior, and then 12 games as a senior before tearing his ACL.
Although Smelter is physically gifted, he still has a lot to learn as he develops his wide receiver skills. Combine getting a later start in football with playing wide receiver in the triple option offense, and reps are going to be essential to his development. He got to learn from the sideline last year, but this offseason is critical for him.
Earlier on Wednesday, NN user thegreatgabbert predicted in a FanPost that Eric Rogers would be the No. 2 receiver. While Patton is the main guy up top, and Ellington brings a unique skill-set to Chip Kelly's offense, Rogers and Smelter are two of the receivers I'm watching closest. There's a lot of interesting stories in that depth chart, but I would not be at all surprised to see one of those two getting starter-level snaps at some point this season.
On difference between Chip Kelly offense and triple option:
[Laugh] I think every offense is a lot different from the triple option. There are some similarities, but a lot of differences, too.
On doing punt returning:
Yes, sir. Coach wanted me back there. I did it a little bit in college. Getting back there and getting some reps at it will be good for me.
On if baseball background helps in tracking punts:
Definitely. That definitely helps. I played baseball a long time, so any time there's a ball in the air, that definitely helps.
On ACL recovery and if he feels same now as pre-injury:
Oh yea, definitely. I feel good. The goal is to go out there and get better every day, and I feel like that's what I've done. Especially from day-to-day and week-to-week, I can see progress.
On opportunity to potentially compete for starting spot:
Oh yea, definitely. I think that's everybody's goal, be able to go out there and compete, get a lot of playing time. We've got a really competitive bunch here, everybody's competing. That's the fun part. It wouldn't be easy if it was just given to you.
On how Kelly tempo fits his style:
Well, I just like that it's more reaction. You're not really thinking too much. You see something, you just react to it. You go out there and do your job. You don't have that much to think, you just go out and do it.
On playing more slot or outside:
I've been moving around from left to right to slot. So, mainly, in this offense, you really need to know what everybody does. The more I know the better.
On how WRs are labeled (X, Z, etc):
It's just left and right, really.
On having less experience and just scratching the surface:
Oh yea, definitely. I don't even know half the players in the league because I'm so used to watching baseball stuff. So I'm still learning stuff, every day in meetings, every day we get out on the field. Going up against defenders. I'm definitely in the learning process right now, but that's not a bad thing.
On if he's a Warriors fan:
I'm a fan of good basketball. The Warriors play good basketball, so I'm definitely a fan of these NBA playoffs this year.
On Tim Lincecum going to Angels:
All I know is Tim Lincecum is a great pitcher. Always had a live arm, especially for such a small frame. That'll be a great move.