DeAndrew White had one of the more promising preseasons of any San Francisco 49er rookie last year. He was mentioned often for having some nice catches and speed as well as being put over by former Alabama teammate Amari Cooper.
Not bad for an undrafted free agent.
White came to the 49ers as a UDFA mostly due to his knee issues. He suffered a torn ACL in 2012 and a shoulder injury in 2014. This is on top of numerous other issues with lower body. Some scouting reports suggested he may have lost a step, but all of that seemed to be turned on its head with the positive reception he received in OTAs and training camp.
Then he just disappeared.
He re-emerged in the regular season during the 49ers blowout at the hands of the Pittsburgh Steelers. Jarryd Hayne was benched for whatever the reason, and White came in. His inexperience quickly showed as he tried to move backwards and get a run-around of the pack of defenders coming for him (something that sometimes works much better at the college level) which wound up with the expected results.
That Pittsburgh game would also be his only game with recorded stats. The game gives you his entire season: 2 receptions, 18 yards.
The good news is, White has a season of NFL experience under his belt and he's coming to a wide receiver corps that is virtually wide open. With the exception of Torrey Smith, nothing is a certain lock and it's obvious that the 49ers will be looking to see what they truly have this season.
He is on the second year of his three-year rookie contract. His base salary is $525,000, and his cap hit is $527,333. As an undrafted free agent, he was eligible to sign a three-year contract, and not a four-year contract. If he plays out this contract, he will be a restricted free agent when it expires. Additionally, although he was on the 53-man roster last season, he is still practice squad eligible this year.
Why he might improve
As stated above, White has a year of experience under his belt and showed a lot of raw talent early on. Perhaps that talent can be brought out now that he's adjusted to the speed of the game. The 49ers will be needing a punt returner and at last year's offseason it was stated by then-49ers special teams coach Thomas McGaughey that White was the best returner. This is of course, against that abysmal defense the 49ers had last year, so that's not saying much.
Why he might regress
White's decent preseason was just that: a decent preseason. He failed to distinguish himself from the pack of a perceived group of mediocre wide receivers (sans Torrey Smith and Anquan Boldin). It's only going to get worse this year now that the 49ers have brought Eric Rogers on board. Last year, White's preseason almost made him a lock to the roster (out of fear another team would take him). This year, he's going to have to do a lot in the preseason to not just earn a roster spot, but not get released midway into the season.
Odds of making the roster
Depending on how he does in OTAs and training camp, that could decide his fate for a few weeks, but no wide receiver not named Torrey Smith is safe and DeAndrew White could become a casualty of the 53 man roster when the time comes.