What would happen if Torrey Smith, far-and-away the 49ers’ top receiver, got hurt this season?
The 49ers got a glimpse Friday when Smith sat out practice with some lower body tightness that coach Chip Kelly said was not serious. That allowed the team to get longer looks at some of its young receivers beginning with DeAndre Smelter.
At 6-foot-2, 227 pounds, Smelter is perhaps the team’s most physically imposing wideout. Lining up at right receiver, which is Smith’s usual spot, he burned cornerback Jimmie Ward early in practice with a stop-and-go move down the sideline on a pass delivered by quarterback Blaine Gabbert.
Later in practice, Smelter found himself in a similar situation, this time facing cornerback Tramaine Brock. Smelter attempted the same stop-and-go move and Gabbert attempted a similar throw. Brock, who is a six-year veteran, didn’t bite as easily as Ward, however, and he came up with the interception at the goal line to the raucous delight of the 49ers defenders. After practice, Smelter said he needed to do a better job of breaking up the pass in that situation.
“We’ve got a lot of great DBs, a lot of great defenders out there, so getting those reps against them in practice every day is good for us,” Smelter said.
DeAndre Campbell played right receiver with the second-team unit while rookie Aaron Burbridge lined up there with the the third stringers. Burbridge had another solid day, using his body to shield fellow rookie Prince Charles Iworah on a throw over the middle.
Eric Rogers also had been playing right receiver. Kelly announced before practice that Rogers tore his ACL a day earlier and would be lost for the season. ... Smith was in uniform for the second half of practice but did not run any routes.
Ward and Brock have been switching sides throughout practice. That’s why Ward was on the left early in the session and Brock was on the left later. The 49ers were in their nickel defense for most of the morning and Chris Davis lined up as the nickel cornerback with the first-team defense.
The team ended practice with a field-goal-to-tie scenario. Quarterback Colin Kaepernick got to lead the first-team offense, but it went nowhere.
▪ On first down, Kaepernick’s short pass to running back Carlos Hyde was incomplete.
▪ 2nd & 10: Kaepernick’s pass to tight end Garrett Celek over the middle was incomplete, though Celek complained of a hold by linebacker NaVorro Bowman. (He probably was right, but there are no officials at practice).
▪ 3rd & 10: Kaepernick’s throw to Smelter on a crossing route was well behind the receiver.
▪ 4th & 10: Kaepernick was “sacked” by outside linebacker Ahmad Brooks.
Gabbert’s drive with the second-team unit was highlighted by an intermediate pass to DeAndrew White. The drive ended with a long Phil Dawnson field goal. Thad Lewis’ drive with the third stringers included a deep sideline pass to Devon Cajuste. (Iworah broke up another attempt to Cajuste). It also ended in a long Dawson field goal.
Anthony Davis and Joshua Garnett began training camp as the third-string right tackle and right guard. They’ve been worked in with the second-team unit over the past two days. It’s entirely possible that they will end up on the right side of the 49ers’ starting offensive line. Tackle John Theus and guard Brandon Thomas spent more time with the third-team line as a result.
Newcomer Cleveland Wallace went through his conditioning test and did not practice. The defensive back will likely be inserted into the defense Saturday. Kelly said that because safety Jaquiski Tartt (leg) had been out, and because cornerback Will Redmond (knee) and safety L.J. McCray (knee) have been limited, the 49ers have been short of bodies in the secondary. Tartt also passed his conditioning test Friday and should be back in the rotation this weekend.