Gabbert: 'Torrey and I are fine,' but 49ers WR very frustrated

Gabbert: 'Torrey and I are fine,' but 49ers WR very frustrated

SANTA CLARA – Just as his emotions blasted to the surface last season, exposing what had become painfully obvious with the 49ers’ passing game, Torrey Smith on Sunday could not mask his feelings.

Smith made his break toward the middle of the field on a deep post pattern and gained enough separation from Dallas Cowboys cornerback Morris Claiborne to give 49ers quarterback Blaine Gabbert a large window of opportunity.

However, Gabbert left his pass outside, instead of leading Smith to the inside. The ball was also underthrown. Instead of getting burned for a 55-yard touchdown, Claiborne was in such poor position, he was able to make the easy game-changing interception.

Smith stomped to the sideline, where he threw down his helmet in anger.

[RELATED: Greg Cosell breaks down Gabbert's costly interception vs Cowboys]

“I was very frustrated, especially after the big post we missed on, because that’s a game-changing play,” Smith said. “I feel like if we hit that, we win the game. I was frustrated. I shouldn’t, you know, probably show it as much. But I want to win.

“In general, it’s hard to get that open, period, in the NFL, and especially on deep shots. We just got to make it hit. Like I said, that’s a game-changing play for us.”

The 49ers trailed 21-17 at the time. San Francisco went on to lose its third consecutive game, 24-17, after Smith’s only reception of the game resulted in a 3-yard gain on a fourth-and-6 pass from Gabbert with 1:56 remaining in the game.

“Torrey and I are fine,” Gabbert said. “It was one play. We both wanted to hit on it. It was a big play in that football game and it didn’t turn out. The past is the past. We’ve moved on from that.

“We’re both on the same page on what we see in that route and we’re going to hit that moving forward. We were both frustrated at the time. That happens. We’re competitive guys. I don’t want to throw a pick there. I’d much rather throw a 65-yard touchdown. Trust me. We’ve just got to move forward and you learn from that experience.”

The 49ers have a quick turnaround this week, as they return to action Thursday evening against the Arizona Cardinals at Levi’s Stadium.

“I’ve been saying since the beginning of the year, our team is only going to go as far as our passing game goes,” Smith said. “We have to take pride in that and get it going. Obviously, it’s going to be hard against a team like this, a solid defense like this.”

The 49ers’ passing game has been atrocious through four games. Although Gabbert has been sacked only three times in four games, the 49ers rank last in the NFL with 178.8 passing yards per game. Gabbert’s passer rating of 73.1 ranks the 49ers No. 30 in that category.

Smith is in his second season with the 49ers after signing a five-year, $40 million contract, including an $8 million signing bonus. Smith showed similar frustration last year when the 49ers' passing game stalled and Colin Kaepernick could not get the ball to him.

Smith posted career-lows with 33 receptions for 663 yards. He is currently fourth on the 49ers with nine catches for 106 yards and one touchdown.

49ers set aside cap space with an eye to the future


49ers set aside cap space with an eye to the future

The first wave of free agency is over, and the 49ers struck quickly.

The club identified two players coach Kyle Shanahan tabbed as fits for his offense and they paid the money it took to get them.

General manager John Lynch said there were five teams seriously interested in free-agent running back Jerick McKinnon. Even more teams were going after center Weston Richburg, he said.

That drove up the prices on McKinnon and Richburg to the point that they rank behind only quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo ($37 million) as taking up the most cap space among the 72 players currently under contract to the 49ers.

McKinnon and Richburg account for $10.5 million and $9.26 million, respectively, on the 49ers' salary cap. Veteran cornerback Richard Sherman's deal takes up $6.175 million on the 49ers' cap this season.

The big spending to attract free agents to the team is likely over. The 49ers have $45.1 million in cap space, according to the NFL Players Association. That figure does not include a projected $8.3 million to sign their 2018 rookie class, according to overthecap.com.

The major spending for this offseason is over because the 49ers have apparently looked to the future and set aside cap space with the idea of retaining some of their own players whose contracts are winding down.

The first decisions for the future must occur by May 3, the deadline for picking up the fifth-year options on first-round picks from the 2015 draft. The 49ers have decisions to make on defensive lineman Arik Armstread and left guard Laken Tomlinson, who was acquired from Detroit in a trade just prior to the start of the 2017 regular season.

It is still unclear how or if Armstead’s skills fit into the 49ers’ defense. He opened last season at the team's pass-rush end before moving to the "big end," which also appears to be first-round pick Solomon Thomas' best position.

Tomlinson showed reasons for the 49ers to be optimistic about his future as his play got better as he acclimated to the offense. Among the guards already on the 49ers’ roster, Tomlinson appears to be the most likely to be a starter in 2018.

Presumptive starting safeties Jimmie Ward and Jaquiski Tartt are scheduled to be unrestricted free agents next offseason. Ward’s fifth-year option deal of one-year, $8.526 million became fully guaranteed last Wednesday. But in order for the 49ers to make a multi-year commitment, Ward would likely have to prove he can remain healthy and available for a full season.

DeForest Buckner is likely the target for the next blockbuster contract extension. Buckner has emerged as one of the top young defensive linemen in the league. Next offseason will be the first time the 49ers are permitted to negotiate a multi-year extension with him.

With a scarcity of offensive linemen available in the draft and free agency, right tackle Trent Brown could be set to cash in with an enormous deal next offseason – either with the 49ers or some other team.

DL Arik Armstead
FS Jimmie Ward
SS Jaquiski Tartt
RT Trent Brown
LB Eli Harold
LG Laken Tomlinson
K Robbie Gould
P Bradley Pinion

DL DeForest Buckner
LT Joe Staley
OG Joshua Garnett
DL Ronald Blair
TE Garrett Celek
RB Matt Breida (RFA)
WR Kendrick Bourne (RFA)

Deepest position in the NFL Draft? 49ers VP of Player Personnel weighs in


Deepest position in the NFL Draft? 49ers VP of Player Personnel weighs in

The 49ers concluded the first wave of the free-agent signing period with the signings of players to fill the team’s biggest offseason needs.

--Cornerback. Aqib Talib would have been the answer in a trade with the Denver Broncos, but he wanted to play elsewhere. Instead, the 49ers signed veteran Richard Sherman, whom the Seattle Seahawks cut a day earlier.

--Interior offensive line. Center Weston Richburg was the player the team had rated as their top target in free agency, and they signed him to a lucrative five-year deal.

--Running back. The team decided Jerick McKinnon was a better fit than Carlos Hyde. They wrapped him up with a four-year contract.

--Edge rusher. Lacking many options in free agency, the 49ers signed Jeremiah Attaochu to a one-year contract in hopes he will earn a spot on the team and make a contribution at the “Leo” position.

The 49ers can still use more help at a number of different positions, including cornerback, wide receiver, offensive line, linebacker and edge rusher. While the 49ers might add some role players in the second wave of free agency, most of the major acquisitions at this point are likely to come in the draft.

On the 49ers Insider Podcast, 49ers vice president of player personnel Adam Peters addressed what positions he believes are strong in this year’s draft.

“I think running backs, absolutely. It’s a deep position,” Peters said. “Quarterbacks at the top is deeper than it was last year. Secondary, corners, it’s not deeper than it was last year, but it’s a strong class of corners. Those are the main ones. The offensive line class is a little better than last year, too.”

The 49ers got major contributions from their rookie class last season. Tight end George Kittle, receiver Trent Taylor, quarterback C.J. Beathard, running back Matt Breida, defensive lineman Solomom Thomas, cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon, linebacker Reuben Foster and safety Adrian Colbert each played more than 300 snaps.

The 49ers feel good about Witherspoon, a third-round draft pick, as a starter with Sherman on the other side. Peters said a lot of the team’s rookies played larger roles than expected in 2017, but Witherspoon might have been at the top of the list.

“I don’t think he was active for the first four games,” Peters said of Witherspoon. “And he ended up playing at a high level at the end. Really driven, conscientious player who wants to be great. 

"We were lucky we got a chance to play a lot of rookies because that’ll help us moving forward.”