clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

49ers roster breakdowns, 90-in-90: WR Torrey Smith

Breaking down the 90 players on the 49ers offseason roster in 90 posts (over 90 or so days). We move on to wide receiver Torrey Smith.

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.

When the San Francisco 49ers signed wide receiver Torrey Smith, the response from fans was excitement, albeit muted. Smith, in four seasons with the Baltimore Ravens, flashed game-breaking ability at the receiver position, but he was inconsistent at best.

Smith never grew into the No. 1 receiver he was supposed to be, and when he was the only guy worth targeting on the field, opposing defenses were able to take him out of the game by putting him in double coverage. The 49ers needed to find a No. 1 receiver, and it didn't look like Smith was going to be that player.

To make things worse, Colin Kaepernick completely collapsed and the thought of his rocket arm combining with Smith's speed and catch radius were pretty much flushed down the toilet. Blaine Gabbert replaced Kaepernick, played better than him, and Smith had his least-productive season to date, with 33 catches for 663 yards and four touchdowns.

It was an underwhelming performance, but one stat did stand out for me: his 20.1 yards reception. That was the highest of his career and it obviously flashed some of his potential. Of course, for every surprisingly good throw, there were several bad ones. Remember that play where Smith was uncovered and he's screaming and jumping around for the ball because he'd be guaranteed a touchdown and the 49ers quarterback didn't even look his direction?

Yeah. In many ways, Smith never had much of a chance. I still don't think he has what it takes to be a No. 1 receiver, and looks a lot more like a slot guy than a dominant overall threat, but the 49ers still have a playmaker here. They still have a guy who can make a difference if they find a way to get him the football. Will they manage to do that? I've no earthly idea.

Why he might improve

Smith had the worst season of his career by most metrics last season. Of course, it wasn't really his fault that Jim Tomsula turned out to be a guy who couldn't run a team if his life depended on it. It wasn't his fault that the quarterback play was so poor and it wasn't his fault that the offensive scheme was so predictable. Smith catches balls well. Smith runs well. Smith has no attitude issues. If Chip Kelly can make the team as a whole better around him, then Smith should shine and really come into his own more than anything.

Why he might regress

Then again ... Smith was in a pretty good situation with the Baltimore Ravens and he wasn't necessarily that impressive. He didn't look great in his final season with the Ravens and his numbers were, at the time, the lowest of his career. Now he has to learn yet another offensive scheme and work with quarterbacks who may or may not even be worth his time. Smith could go in either direction here.

Odds of making the roster

Smith is the best chance of a real 49ers playmaker on offense next season. He's not competing for a spot and his contract is not unreal or anything along those lines. He'll be on the roster without any doubt, and starting for sure.