The San Francisco 49ers Should Ease DeAndre Smelter Into Their Wide Receiver Mix


Ken Sugiura wrote a very detailed article for the that explained how the San Francisco 49ers front office feels about DeAndre Smelter’s prospects for getting on the football field this season for their team.

Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets
Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets /

Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets

As Tech fans already know, Smelter suffered a torn ACL in the Georgia Bulldogs game last season and missed the pre-draft workouts rehabbing his knee.

The injury did not deter the San Francisco 49ers from taking him with the 132nd pick of the fourth round.

San Francisco 49ers GM Trent Balke explained what turned him on about DeAndre Smelter as a player when he was quoted as saying this in the piece:

“He’s big, he’s physical, he can block, he can run after the catch, He’s got huge hands, size-11 (11 inches from thumb tip to pinkie tip) hands, he’s a physical receiver. He moves pretty well. Heck of an athlete.” 

-Trent Balke

The way that Balke described DeAndre Smelter seems like the same description of a few wide receivers that have worn the Scarlet and Gold of the San Francisco 49ers.

If you have been able to watch wide receivers such as Jerry Rice, Dwight Clark, John Taylor, and Terrell Owens, you know that the Niners have more often than not had a specific type of receiver that the franchise has become synonymous with over the years.

Even when you think about a draft bust like J.J.Stokes, who taken 10th in the 1995 NFL Draft, he still had the 6-foot-3 to 6-foot-5 frame with big hands and speed coming out of UCLA that Balke is talking about with Smelter.

Balke, however, spoke in regards to what the possible timetable could be for bringing Smelter along in their program coming off of his injury. Balke was cautiously-optimistic:

“It’s a situation where he may not be ready for training camp, but he may be ready at some point in the immediate future after that. We’ve just got to get our hands on him, see exactly where he’s at, but feel confident that the rehab’s going very well up to this point.”

-Trent Balke

That statement basically begs the question,”What’s the sense in rushing Smelter on to the field?”.

The San Francisco 49ers are not in such a wide receiver quandary that they have to have the mindset of getting Smelter on the field as soon as possible.

Yeah, they lost Michael Crabtree to free agency when he bolted across the  Bay Bridge to commit to excellence with the Oakland Raiders.

But the wide receiver pool still has Anquan Boldin, a newly acquired Torrey Smith from Baltimore, veteran Jerome Simpson, and talented yet unproven Quinton Patton in the mix.  There is enough receiving talent on the squad to get through.

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Of course, Tech fans would love to see Smelter sooner rather than later. But the Niners best bet truly is to not rush the situation and let Smelter have an apprenticeship for as long as possible before he goes full speed.

He is going to be able learn how to use his size from Anquan Boldin of all people, who is arguably the most physical receiver in the game.  There are very few receivers in the league who could be a better mentor to him.

DeAndre Smelter spoke about the opportunity to learn from Boldin in the piece:

“I know he’s a big, physical receiver that plays the game the way it should be played. I’m planning on learning a lot from him.”

-DeAndre Smelter

We just want DeAndre Smelter to be healthy while he is soaking in the knowledge.

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He knows better than anyone what he can and can’t handle, but in the end it is about making sure a young player gets the best opportunity to succeed in the league.

Best way to succeed coming off of a knee injury is to ease DeAndre Smelter into the mix and if necessary let him sit on the cooler for 2015.

Might sound a little over cautious, but it is better to error on that side.