Torrey Smith said he isn’t getting any more attention from defenses than usual and he’s still getting open.
“You can go look at the film,” the 49ers wide receiver suggested Tuesday.
He’s just not getting the ball. Through four games, Smith ranks fourth on the team with nine catches. In Sunday’s loss to the Dallas Cowboys, he had one reception for 3 yards.
Smith vented by sending his helmet tumbling out of bounds after he and quarterback Blaine Gabbert failed to connect on a deep ball in the fourth quarter. Had the pass been placed properly, Smith would have scored the go-ahead touchdown. Instead, Morris Claiborne made an interception that led to a field goal.
“I was very frustrated especially on the big post (route) we missed on,” Smith said. “Because that’s a game-changing play. And I feel like if we hit that, we win the game. I was frustrated. I probably shouldn’t show it as much. But I want to win. I’m passionate about winning.”
Smith said he’s let his emotions take over like that only “a handful of times.” But he was similarly demonstrative last year when Colin Kaepernick was the quarterback and Geep Chryst was calling the plays.
Last season was the most modest of Smith’s six-year career: 33 catches for 663 yards and four touchdowns. With coach Chip Kelly in control this year, he’s on pace for another disappointing stat line: 36 catches, 424 yards and four touchdowns.
When Anquan Boldin didn’t re-sign in free agency, that left Smith as the 49ers’ most accomplished receiver by far and perhaps the only one defenses need to worry about.
Asked this week why Smith, who last year signed a five-year, $40 million deal, hasn’t been more involved in the offense, Kelly suggested opponents were giving Smith extra attention.
“We’ve gotten a lot of man coverage out there,” Kelly said. “Sometimes (defenses) are leaning safeties towards his side. So we’re taking advantage of what’s going on.”
Smith said some opponents are keeping a safety deep so he can’t burn them downfield. But he said that’s not happening any more than in previous years.
“We’ve actually had a lot of man-to-man opportunities,” Smith said. “Overall, it hasn’t been too bad.”
Smith also said he’s “completely fine” being a decoy if it means others are open and the 49ers are moving the ball.
That’s what happened early in Sunday’s game when the 49ers, noting Cowboys nickel back Orlando Scandrick was out because of an injury, concentrated on his replacement, rookie Anthony Brown.
It worked for a while. The 49ers’ slot receiver, Jeremy Kerley, got open over the middle and finished with a game-high 88 yards, including a 33-yard touchdown in the first quarter. Tight end Garrett Celek also found plenty of room in the middle of the field, finishing with five catches for 79 yards, both career highs for him.
But apart from a six-play drive to begin the third quarter that ended in a field goal, the 49ers couldn’t duplicate their early success after the Cowboys took the lead.
“So long as we’re moving the ball and scoring points, I’ll never complain about that,” Smith said. “But when it’s tough and I’m waiting and then I know we had the opportunity to change the game like that and we missed – it’s tough.”
On Tuesday, Gabbert said he and Smith were “fine”
“We were both frustrated at the time,” Gabbert said. “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.”
Smith agreed, saying he was more concerned about how throwing his helmet would be viewed by kids than his quarterback.
“We’re all grown men,” he said. “You know we’re going to be mad, but I don’t want little kids looking at me like, ‘Oh, it’s OK for me to do that when I’m playing and I’m mad or something doesn’t go the way I want it to be.’ Not cool.’ ”