Torrey Smith’s bye week began with a visit to his in-laws, who happen to live in Philadelphia. You can imagine the confusion from observant Eagles fans.
“Everyone thought I was traded up there,” Smith said with a smile Tuesday.
The 49ers wide receiver was frequently mentioned when it came to the NFL’s trade deadline – which passed at 1 p.m. Tuesday – and the Eagles were believed to have been his most ardent pursuer. ESPN reported Philadelphia offered the 49ers a fifth-round pick for Smith, but San Francisco wouldn’t budge for anything less than a third.
On Tuesday, Smith confirmed “there were negotiations going on” while he was on the East Coast but declined to discuss the particulars.
Smith, 27, grew up in Northern Virginia, played at Maryland and spent four productive seasons with the Baltimore Ravens. His foundation continues to do work in Baltimore – Smith went there after visiting his in-laws – which is just a two-hour trip from Philadelphia.
In San Francisco, meanwhile, his career has dipped dramatically. Last year he had a career-low 33 receptions on a 5-11 squad. This year is shaping up to be even worse. His 13 catches are tied with running back Carlos Hyde for third on the 49ers, who are 1-6.
After former starting quarterback Blaine Gabbert failed to connect with Smith on a deep pass in a 24-17 loss to the Dallas Cowboys in Week 4 – the 49ers’ most narrow defeat of the season thus far – cameras caught Smith throwing his helmet on the sideline in exasperation.
Is there part of him that would have welcomed an escape to the 4-3 Eagles?
“I think the selfish side of you – you think that sometimes a change of scenery would be a good thing,” Smith said in front of his locker. “But I know I’m very committed to everybody in this locker room. … I’m a 49er and I’m going to go out there and play my (butt) off for these guys. It’s not something where I’m going out there and crying, banging down the door, saying, ‘Get me out of here.’
“I understand the business side of it, too. Things haven’t gone the way any of us expected. So you’re never surprised when these things come about.”
Left tackle Joe Staley, 32, also was prominent in trade discussions. Staley and Smith were on the field for the start of Tuesday’s practice, an early tipoff they wouldn’t be going anywhere.
Last year the 49ers made two trades during the regular season, acquiring linebacker Gerald Hodges from the Minnesota Vikings and shipping tight end Vernon Davis to the Denver Broncos just before the deadline. Davis became a free agent in March and joined the Washington Redskins.
This season, Davis has 23 catches for 316 yards and one touchdown. He has more receptions than all but one 49er, wide receiver Jeremy Kerley, who has 30 catches for 331 yards.
That underscores the dearth of talent at wide receiver for the 49ers and why it wouldn’t be easy for a team such as the Eagles to obtain Smith, the group’s most distinguished member.
Last year, Smith signed a five-year, $40 million free-agent contract with the 49ers. He said he was eager to play opposite former Ravens teammate Anquan Boldin, whom the 49ers did not re-sign in free agency this year. Boldin signed with the Detroit Lions and has 33 catches for 276 yards and four touchdowns.
Smith said he also wanted to join a franchise with a winning tradition.
“We’ve got to get back to that,” he said. “I take a lot of pride in playing for this organization and understand the history, and also taking a lot of pride in getting it back to where it belongs.”