49ers coach Chip Kelly on the importance of slot receivers in his offense
When Chip Kelly went to Berkeley in March to watch Cal quarterback Jared Goff, he came away smitten with one of the players catching Goff’s passes.
“Chip Kelly was walking me through every route, telling me some of the things that they do,” wide receiver Bryce Treggs said Sunday. “That’s when I really decided that this is probably the right spot for me because of how interested Chip Kelly was.”
Treggs caught Kelly’s eye earlier that month at Cal’s pro day when he ran the 40-yard dash in 4.39 seconds. The 49ers added him as an undrafted free agent, and he’s been lining up at slot receiver, mostly with the third-string offense, in practice.
Kelly explained Sunday he looks for two types of players at slot receiver: big guys who can outmuscle defenders at the line of scrimmage and small, shifty players who can create space with their quickness.
Sometimes a tight end lines up there in practice. More often it’s one of three receivers: Bruce Ellington, DeAndrew White and Treggs, who averaged 21.2 yards on 45 catches last year. Of that group, Treggs is the fastest.
“I think he’s got great short-area quickness to go along with some long speed,” Kelly said. “He can really run and stretch a defense. He has the ability to kind of separate inside in there just because of his short-area quickness. He was a guy that we felt would fit in the mold. He’s similarly built, similarly sized to Bruce. They both kind of have the same qualities in there.”
Torrey Smith, Quinton Patton and Ellington have been the 49ers’ first-string receivers throughout the offseason. Beyond them, the position is ill-defined, and any one of the team’s young receivers appears to have a legitimate shot at making the 53-man squad. One of the most promising members of that group, Eric Rogers, suffered a season-ending torn ACL last week.
Kelly kept six receivers on his roster when he coached the Philadelphia Eagles. Ellington, White and Treggs also have been returning punts and kicks in practice.
Of the 49ers’ young wideouts, DiAndre Campbell and Treggs stood out in Sunday’s practice. Campbell caught eight passes during team and 7-on-7 drills. Treggs caught three in quick succession from backup quarterback Thad Lewis.
“His offense definitely puts speedy guys like me in a position to make plays,” Treggs said of Kelly, who once coached another speedy wideout from Cal, DeSean Jackson. “So I’m just trying to embrace that role and bring a different aspect to the team, something they don’t have. And that’s a real solid deep threat out of the slot.”
Et cetera – Quarterback Blaine Gabbert had a strong practice Sunday, completing 9 of 11 attempts during team drills, including a touchdown to receiver Jerome Simpson. Colin Kaepernick, meanwhile, was 4 for 10 in team situations and struggled on third down.
▪ Defensive linemen Arik Armstead (shoulder) and DeForest Buckner (arm) were sidelined at the end of practice. Neither ailment appeared serious. The players have a day off Monday.
▪ DeAndre Smelter, one of the young receivers looking to make a splash this summer, dropped a pass early in practice, then sat out the second half after getting attention from a trainer. He dealt with a hamstring pull in the spring.