DeAndre Smelter returned to the 49ers this week as a slimmed-down version of his former self.
The wide receiver, who was waived Sept. 3, said he now weighs 210 pounds after being around 225 pounds earlier this year and in college.
“I feel a lot smoother out there,” Smelter said Thursday. “Everything feels a lot more effortless. I feel good.”
The 49ers were unable to give Smelter a full evaluation before the season because he was dealing with a severe hamstring injury.
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“We never saw enough of him to really make an accurate decision on, ‘Hey, can he contribute?’ ” 49ers coach Chip Kelly said.
The 49ers added Smelter to their practice squad earlier this week, and he has worked on the scout team as San Francisco prepares to host the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday. Smelter was a fourth-round pick in 2015 who, like a number of general manager Trent Baalke’s selections, spent his rookie season recovering from an ACL tear suffered in college.
The 49ers had hoped his big frame – he stands 6-foot-2 – would give Kelly’s offense the type of receiver who can catch passes and break tackles as he moves upfield, something that has been lacking this season.
The 49ers have six receivers on their active roster. Only two, Quinton Patton and Aaron Burbridge, were drafted by the team. The 49ers acquired three others – Jeremy Kerley, Rod Streater and Keshawn Martin – after training camp.
Could Smelter help the 49ers this season? The problem is that he played in a rudimentary passing offense at Georgia Tech and has yet to go through a full NFL offseason. His hamstring injury kept him out of all of the 49ers’ preseason games this year. He dressed and warmed up for the final exhibition against the Chargers on Sept. 1 but didn’t get on the field and was waived two days later.
“I think he got hurt before our first preseason game, so we never got a chance to see him in action,” Kelly said.
Chip’s future – Asked about his long-term commitment to the 49ers, Kelly said, “Unless the media has an opportunity for me, I’m not going anywhere.” A day earlier, a report predicted that Kelly would be connected with a number of high-profile college openings.
Kelly is in the first season of a four-year contract with the 49ers that pays him $6 million a year.
Et cetera – Kelly said he wants three running backs available for Sunday’s game against the Buccaneers but that the 49ers won’t make a roster move until Saturday. With Carlos Hyde (shoulder) unlikely to play, the team could promote DuJuan Harris from the practice squad.
▪ Cornerback Rashard Robinson (concussion) returned to practice in a blue jersey, indicating he is to avoid contact. Robinson was limited in practice but on track to be available Sunday.
▪ Wide receiver Torrey Smith and quarterback Blaine Gabbert were added to the team’s injury report with back issues. Smith was limited in practice, while Gabbert was a full participant. “I’m alive; I can’t complain,” said Smith, who has played in every game of his six-year career.