Wide receiver Torrey Smith has not lived up to the five-year, $40 million contract he signed with the 49ers in 2015.
Or have the 49ers been the problem for failing to properly take advantage of Smith’s skills as the deep threat that was sorely lacking in previous seasons?
New 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan figures to bring a more aggressive mindset to the team’s offense. Now, it’s a matter of finding the right players to plug into the right spots.
Smith could find a situation similar to what he enjoyed during most of his four seasons with the Baltimore Ravens. In 2014, Smith caught 11 touchdown passes before leaving for the 49ers as a free agent.
“It’s not rocket science. Football is football. Plays are plays,” Smith said. “It’s the way they scheme it up and put it together. The way I watch it from afar, he (Shanahan) tailors it to people’s strengths, which is always a plus. So I’m excited to see what his plan is for us.”
The plan, according to new 49ers running backs coach Bobby Turner, is to use the running game to set up big plays down the field.
“At times, you can’t run it if they put eight or nine in the box,” Turner told CSNBayArea.com during Super Bowl week in Houston. “It’s tough to run the ball. We might only get a yard on that play. But by doing that, being consistent and continually trying to run the ball, you exploit them through the air with the play-action game.”
Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan led the NFL with 17 passes of more than 40 yards in the regular season.
Smith caught a 53-yard touchdown pass against Buffalo for his only reception that covered 40 yards or more last season.
”The offense, I have experience with it,” Smith said. “I’m interested to see how he teaches it. You just have to execute. But with his track record, it kind of speaks for itself. I’m excited for him to have that opportunity. He’s a young guy. I feel like he could fit in in our locker room. He looks that young. He has a proven track record and he knows what he’s doing. It’s his time, so I’m excited for him.”
Smith has a scheduled salary-cap figure of $9.475 million for the 2017 season, but the 49ers are comfortably under the salary cap with an estimated $80 million in cap room heading into the new league year.