San Francisco 49ers: 5 Potential Breakout Players in 2016
By Peter Panacy
Wide Receiver DeAndre Smelter
The last possibility on this list may be a reach. But it’s a good enough prediction to suggest second-year wide receiver DeAndre Smelter will enjoy a breakout year in 2016.
Smelter, after being drafted in Round 4 last year, spent his entire rookie season redshirted while recovering from a collegiate knee injury. There’s no guarantee he’ll return to form, and general manager Trent Baalke’s history of drafting injured players hasn’t exactly panned out either.
Still, the 6’2″, 226-pound receiver possesses all the likable traits and tools one would want out of a bona fide receiving threat.
Niner Noise co-editor Doug Totten put together a bold prediction and stated Smelter would make the Pro Bowl in what would be, unofficially, his rookie season.
It helps head coach Chip Kelly has a thing for big-bodied receivers, as noted by Eric Branch of SFGate.com. Smelter’s stature and attributes play right into what Kelly likes in his receivers, so there’s a good chance the second-year wideout will be a factor in the head coach’s offense this season.
If Smelter stays healthy.
Why He’ll Break Out
The 49ers will be looking for a long-term option to replace veteran wide receiver Anquan Boldin, who is poised to hit the free-agent market this offseason. Even if Boldin re-signs, Smelter could easily be the guy San Francisco’s coaching staff tries to develop as the heir apparent.
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Smelter should get plenty of chances. And, should he capitalize on them, the developing wideout may wind up being a top receiver for the Niners offense in the very near future.
Next: Predicting Most-Improved 49ers Sophomore in 2016
All statistics, records and accolades courtesy of Pro-Football-Reference.com and Sports-Reference.com unless otherwise indicated.