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Bicknell on DeAndre Smelter: Has all the tools, but not yet ready to know how to use them

The 49ers Wide Receiver coach met with the media to answer a few questions relating to the current state of the wide receivers. You can hear the entire interview here.

The San Francisco 49ers assistant coaches met with the media on Monday, and we got a chance to hear from each position coach. Wide receivers coach Bob Bicknell had a lot to talk about, updating a few of the players, with some particularly interesting comments about second year receiver DeAndre Smelter.

Video opened with this comment:

I think they all work extremely hard. We’ve had such a good camp, all our skill guys our DBs, our wide receivers, they work great together there’s not a lot of chippiness. When we’re getting that work we go to a preseason game, it’s fun, but you’re almost missing that day you can go out there and really coach them. I think our DBs do a better job of press coverage than anyone in the league. We’ve been working on that because that what’s we see. And really Houston felt that that’s not their deal so they were kinda off us a little bit. But you know they are all working hard, they’re guys that are developing and it comes down to who’s going to start, kinda pull ahead and make plays.

What do you want to see from that young group? Is it consistency? Is it big plays? What is going to distinguish one of those younger guys from the rest of the pack?

Well you want to see them getting better at all the things you can coach. Like their releases, catching the football, the way their concentration is and everything that has to do with reading defenses or seeing what people are doing or how you’re leveraging them. And then, to be honest with you, separating them, you just want to see that guy that, no matter what’s happening, we all look out there, we him make a big play or make a guy miss or go up and get a ball. That’s ultimately what they are going to have to do to separate themselves is be a guy that can make plays. I think that’s what happens in this league.

Is there one guy, in particular who has the best hands so far?

You know , I can’t say that, I –

Is that a bad thing?

No. There’s some guys that had better technique catching the football when they come in and I think there’s a big technique to that. We don’t talk about drops because that’s something you don’t want to talk about. When you’re in the National Football League, you have to catch the ball. No matter what happens you have to catch the football. But I think a lot of them have really worked on eye discipline and tried to see the ball in. DeAndrew White is one guy and I talked to him about it other day in the room. He was a little undisciplined with his catching. He had great hands, natural hands. But he spent this entire offseason looking the ball in, looking into the tuck and in my opinion, become a bit more consistent with that, but they all have pretty good hands.

What have you seen from Bruce Ellington?

You know Bruce is, the thing about him is he separates. Throughout this camp, he has a very good feel for the game. His spacing is amazing. I think it’s a lot of that basketball moment of understanding that kind of spacing. Really where he moves and his routes sometimes has to do almost like he has a basketball and trying to get by a guy for a lay-up. That’s kind of how he moves. You really can pinpoint if he’s one on one, he’s gonna separate and get open and try to catch the ball.

Playing guard and quick, and short-space quickness works for the slot?

Yeah, he’s taught me a lot about that because just the way he moves, some of these guys can use some of that. It’s more kind of getting your weight on your inside a little bit and just being able to move that side to side. Which he does very naturally and has great quickness and is an explosive player. He’s got an ability to separate and get open and ultimately, when it’s all said and done, we’ll have to beat man coverage and he does a good job.

It seems like when we are talking about these younger players, DiAndre Campbell will have a nice practice one day and then Dres Anderson will have one the next. Has anyone begun to string those together to a point where they’ve started to stand out in your mind?

You know I can’t say that, it seems like we’ve been in camp for a long time, but I guess we’re probably around our 10th practice and there’s installs that go with that. So it is a little bit of that. Some guys will come out and “Wow, he had really good practice” feel great about what he’s doing today and then the next day he might not be as good. Guys will get nicked up a little bit or a little sore or not able to move as well. So I think you start to look at this is a big week, I think, for everybody in terms of who we’re practicing against, that ability to go against another team again. You know start to work towards that game and then obviously the 3rd game. They are all into it, they all want it and they are all working hard. So you just hope we can figure out who those guys are and string them together.

Some guys have been kind of put into one role mostly so far at camp; [Bryce] Treggs, and White and Ellington in the slot. At any point will they be moved to the outside just to see what Treggs can do with speed on the outside?

Yep. A lot of times in practice they’ll end up on the outside. The way our offense goes, number one we could be in any position and then formationally we could put each position in each spot. So, that’s a very easy thing to do. If we want Torrey [49ers Wide Receiver Torrey Smith] to get somewhere else then we can put him wherever we want him if we want. I think we’ll start to getting to working on that a little bit more. The slot position I think we talked about it before, is a very difficult position in terms of all the things that go around you; all the different areas and different looks that you have, so you want to try to get especially if you decide ‘hey we need to find some slot players’ that you get them in there and get them as many looks as you can.

What did you see from [DeAndre] Smelter playing in the triple option in college and didn’t play as a rookie, didn’t practice, What kind of growth did you see from him before this latest injury.

You know, he’s a talented kid. He’s physical, he can run. He’s a raw player when you talk about raw players. And there’s a lot of experience I think that goes into playing this position especially at this level. Because you’re playing against really good players. We kind of got spoiled with Odell Beckham and that whole class that they were all going to come in and play the first year, but I think historically, it’s always taken a little bit of time. And he needs some reps, coming off a knee injury, and then there’s a million things that go along with that as anyone that’s been injured realizes, now you’ve got other things that come up. I think if he can get his consistent time of practicing, playing, seeing everything, he has all the tools that you’d want, he just, honestly is not yet ready to know how to use them. He just doesn’t.

Quinton Patton his first three years hasn’t had a chance to establish himself because of some of the other guys. But when you evaluate him on film and at practice what stands out to you about his game.

Well he’s got really good quickness. He’s got great energy about him. He puts a little bit of speed, well he’ll be mad that I said it, but he’s a very fast player as we know, but his quickness is probably even more. So when you add quickness with speed it makes him a little bit of a different player. He can go in the slot and do some things or he can go outside and still stretch the field that way. It’s hard, you never know why some guys haven’t had big production or different things happen. I look at him here, it’s all right in front of him. He’s got a great opportunity. He’s a great kid that loves football and he’s out here trying to practice every day, so I’m hoping he can come along.