San Francisco 49ers: 10 Bold Predictions for the 2016 Season
By Peter Panacy
No. 6: Wide Receiver DeAndre Smelter Makes the Pro Bowl
This probably won’t happen if rookie wideout Aaron Burbridge earns the No. 2 starting spot in 2016.
But if Burbridge doesn’t get the nod, and second-year pro DeAndre Smelter does, let’s go with a bold prediction of the former Georgia Tech standout making the Pro Bowl in his first season on an NFL field.
Smelter making the Pro Bowl this season has already been argued before, last time by Niner Noise co-editor Douglas Totten. He wrote:
"Yes, this is a bold statement for a receiver who has not yet played a down in the NFL, but it should not seem ridiculous. Smelter was a fantastic receiver for Georgia Tech — a school that has quite the reputation for sending good receivers to the pros — and, as his former collegiate coach told 49ers.com back in July, Smelter has “Unlimited potential.” With Chip Kelly now in charge, expect that potential to be tapped sooner rather than later."
What held Smelter back from being drafted higher than the fourth round in 2015 was his collegiate ACL injury.
And, as Bleacher Report’s Christopher Hansen noted last year, this likely kept the receiver from being a top-five or six pick in the 2015 draft.
Few of general manager Trent Baalke’s ACL-risk picks have worked out at the pro level.
But there’s always a first time, so let’s boldly predict Smelter breaks through with a bang.
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