Anquan Boldin said Wednesday that wide receiver Torrey Smith is a great fit for the 49ers because, well, he’s not like him.
Boldin said last year’s top three receivers in San Francisco – Boldin, Michael Crabtree and Stevie Johnson – all were “in the same mold.”
“Guys that were really route runners underneath, got yards after the catch – those type of guys,” Boldin said on a conference call from Florida.
The 49ers released Johnson on Wednesday after they were unable to restructure the receiver’s contract, which would have paid him more than $6 million this season. The sides are thought to be open to his return at a reduced price. Crabtree, a free agent, is not expected to return.
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Boldin said he helped recruit Smith, who signed a five-year contract with the 49ers on Wednesday. The two played together for two seasons in Baltimore and won a championship – against the 49ers – in 2012. He said Smith’s skills – being able to get deep down field quickly – complement his own.
“I work underneath, more intermediate routes and things like that,” Boldin said. “He’s a guy that takes the top off of defenses.”
Smith’s former quarterback, Joe Flacco, is known as a proficient deep-ball thrower. His new quarterback, Colin Kaepernick, didn’t do much of that last season.
But Boldin and Smith said they are confident Kaepernick can take advantage of Smith’s deep speed.
“I’ve seen it – not this past season but the season before,” Boldin said. “(Kaepernick) and Vernon (Davis) connected on several deep passes. So it’s not that he doesn’t have the ability to throw deep. At times we just didn’t call it. But I definitely think he has the ability to throw the ball down field.”
Smith said he’s known Kaepernick since college when his Maryland team took on Kaepernick’s Nevada team in the 2008 Humanitarian Bowl, during which Smith had a 99-yard touchdown run.
“I watched him since then, and I knew he was a ballplayer,” said Smith, who also trained with Kaepernick in Miami last offseason. “He’s a great player. I’m comfortable with him. He has a strong arm and I can run. That’s a good combination there.”
Smith said he is training in Miami while working on obtaining an advanced degree but that he plans to train with Kaepernick in Phoenix at some point this offseason.
Bush to succeed Gore? – The 49ers met with free-agent running back Reggie Bush, who could be part of a three-headed backfield after Frank Gore’s departure.
The 49ers have only two experienced tailbacks, Carlos Hyde and Kendall Hunter. Hyde likely will get most of the carries in 2015 with others in complementary roles. General manager Trent Baalke has said he prefers a tailback-by-committee approach to the position.
Bush rushed for only 297 yards and two touchdowns last year in an injury-shortened season for the Detroit Lions. The year before, however, he had more than 1,000 rushing yards and 505 yards – and three touchdowns – as a receiver out of the backfield. The 49ers are expected to use more screens, and Bush seems ideal for that role.
Bush was a high school teammate of former 49ers quarterback Alex Smith. He also met and endorsed newly signed running back Jarryd Hayne in Australia. The former Rugby League player will try to earn a roster spot, perhaps as a punt and kick returner.
Bush also has experience as a returner, but he hasn’t handled a punt since 2011.