49ers sign deep threat Torrey Smith to five-year deal: Grading the move
From the two-birds-with-one-stone department: Ex-Ravens receiver Torrey Smith signed a five-year deal in San Francisco on Tuesday afternoon, worth $40 million and $22 million guaranteed, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter.
"I think it's no mystery we're looking for guys that can run and get down the field," 49ers general manager Trent Baalke said at the NFL combine, of his team's pursuit of a receiver.
Smith fits that description. While chasing down deep balls from Joe Flacco, Smith averaged 16.9 yards per catch during his four Ravens seasons. He also led the league in pass interference penalties drawn last year, consistently showing the ability to not only track those Flacco bombs but to win position against defensive backs.
Smith is coming off a career-high 11 touchdowns in 2014, six more than Anquan Boldin, who led the 49ers in that category. The Ravens paired Smith and Boldin together in 2011 and '12, with the two combining for 114 catches, 12 touchdowns and more than 1,700 yards in Boldin's final Baltimore campaign.
[daily_cut.nfl]The weeks leading up to free agency had been trying for the 49ers, beginning with Jim Harbaugh's departure and continuing on through linebacker Patrick Willis' retirement announcement on Tuesday afternoon. Smith's arrival helps stop the bleeding.
The 26-year-old receiver should help Kaepernick's progression as a passer, if only by providing a safety valve downfield—that's how Flacco used Smith on many occasions. Smith posted 1,100 yards in 2013, then followed up with that 11-touchdown showing last season.
Should he put it all together, look out.
Smith does not really fit the profile of a true No. 1 receiver, and neither does Boldin at this point in his career. Of course, that duo worked together to help Baltimore beat the 49ers in the Super Bowl two years ago, so San Francisco won't be too worried about designating roles. Smith is the burner that can help open up the 49ers' passing game, forcing defenses to back off a bit downfield so they don't give up home runs.
The price and guaranteed money makes for a serious commitment, but Smith should not be falling off as a playmaker anytime soon.