49ers look to bolster pass attack with new receiving options
SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) Having spent his entire football career playing close to his Virginia home, new 49ers wideout Torrey Smith is enjoying his first extended stay out West in the Bay Area.
''From where I went to high school, to playing with the Ravens, it's literally off the same highway,'' Smith said. ''I just constantly went up (Interstate) 95. It's been so close, I've been so comfortable with everything. This is my first time really being outside of that. With that, it's been peaceful.''
The 49ers are thrilled to have him as a complement to former Baltimore teammate Anquan Boldin.
The 26-year-old Smith became San Francisco general manager Trent Baalke's most expensive free-agent acquisition to date since being promoted to that role in 2011. Smith signed a $40 million, five-year contract March 11.
Baalke showed the importance of finding another deep threat following the departure of Michael Crabtree as quarterback Colin Kaepernick looks to bounce back from a disappointing year.
''He opens up a lot of possibilities,'' Kaepernick said. ''He's a great player who's shown he can make plays in big-time situations, and that's something we want to take advantage of.''
The offense sputtered with the league's 30th-ranked passing attack last season as the 49ers went 8-8, missed the playoffs for the first time in four years and parted ways with coach Jim Harbaugh.
Smith and Boldin played together for two years with the Ravens, and Boldin took part in recruiting Smith to the Niners.
The duo combined for eight catches, 139 yards and a touchdown in their 34-31 win over the 49ers in the Super Bowl after the 2012 season.
''Guys respect his speed,'' said Boldin, who has had 1,000-yard seasons in his two years with the 49ers. ''You're not going to find too many guys that play up on him like that, which makes running intermediate routes that much easier for him. But he's also a guy that doesn't mind getting his nose dirty - likes to get in there and get blocks. That's something we took pride in as receivers in Baltimore.''
Smith has averaged 16.9 yards per reception throughout his four years in the league after getting drafted in the second round at 58th overall in 2011. San Francisco pass catchers averaged 11.9 yards last season.
''Everybody goes out on the field and you see how fast he is,'' new coach Jim Tomsula said. ''But my first impression of Torrey Smith is more about the man than it is about the ball player. He is a unique guy. And the way he carries himself and the way he talks to people, he's one of those multipliers. He's just a really, really good person.''
San Francisco also will rely on Bruce Ellington, Quinton Patton and newcomer Jerome Simpson.
Ellington, a favorite for the No. 3 receiver job, was used primarily as the team's return man during his rookie season, averaging 8.2 yards per punt return and 25.6 on kickoffs. All three of his touchdowns came on offense. In December, Ellington became the first 49ers rookie since Amp Lee in 1992 to notch a touchdown rushing and a TD receiving in the same game, scoring on an 8-yard pass from Kaepernick and on a 1-yard run in a 38-35 overtime loss to the Chargers.
On Wednesday, San Francisco signed another wide receiver by adding undrafted free agent Nigel King on a two-year contract. He joins five other undrafted free agent receivers, including athletic Dres Anderson out of Utah and Alabama's DeAndrew White. Anderson made a leaping catch on the left sideline Tuesday on a pass by Blaine Gabbert.
Anderson, the son of former Los Angeles Rams receiver Flipper Anderson, sustained a torn meniscus in October against USC, ending his senior season. White dealt with a string injuries throughout his career with the Crimson Tide, including an ACL tear in 2012, a toe fracture, separated shoulder and hamstring.
''We feel like that's a really nice young group of guys to go along with this mix of veterans,'' new offensive coordinator Geep Chryst said.
NOTES: The 49ers released five-year veteran CB Chris Cook, who signed a one-year deal in the spring after a hamstring injury ended his 2014 season after six games. ... Former Australian Rugby League star Jarryd Hayne took part in his first padded practice Tuesday, and a day later said, ''My neck's pretty sore.'' ... The 49ers will practice in Levi's Stadium on Wednesday for the first time since Sunday. Their first eight practices were scheduled to be held inside the Super Bowl-hosting $1.3 billion venue, but issues with the sod forced the team to move its next two practices to the adjacent practice facility.
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