Niner Noise rcontinues on with our “Who Is?” look at San Francisco 49ers players in 2017. In this installment, we look at wide receiver DeAndre Carter.
One of the first moves San Francisco 49ers general manager John Lynch made when he took over the roster this year was to ink wide receiver DeAndre Carter to a two-year deal.
Carter, 23 years old, joined the NFL as an undrafted free agent with the Baltimore Ravens in 2015. He also spent time with the Oakland Raiders and New England Patriots through the early parts of the 2016 season.
Carter, from San Jose, played four seasons at Sacramento State University. His best season came in 2014, when he registered 17 touchdowns and 1,321 receiving yards on 99 catches:
DeAndre Carter College Career Rushing/Receiving Stats
The 49ers have spent considerable effort revamping their wide receiver group since Carter was signed. Yet the two-year deal suggests Lynch and Co. might be a bit more willing to give the wide receiver an elongated look.
Let’s see where that look may take Carter this season.
Why He’ll Improve
Carter’s 5-foot-8, 190-pound frame isn’t quite ideal for a wide receiver. Even one operating out of the slot, where Carter projects if he’s able to make the roster.
But one thing Carter has going for him is his ability to use speed and acceleration to create separation from defensive backs.
NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein wrote this about Carter back in 2015:
"Stocky frame with good body control. Low center of gravity allows him to shut down route and open quickly. Outstanding separation quickness laterally. Highly competitive with well-known work ethic. Finds the holes against zone coverage and is ready as soon as leather touches glove. Explosive lower body and plays to it."
Head coach Kyle Shanahan covets speed, and Carter has it — logging a 4.44 40-yard time at his pro day.
The other added note is Shanahan’s offense creates opportunities for receivers to get open.
With Zierlein’s assessment on Carter being able to find seams in zone coverage, there’s a good chance the small and shifty receiver would make a solid impact if utilized correctly.
Why He’ll Regress
Carter has had a chance now with three different teams before landing in San Francisco.
This isn’t always a sentence against players, but it does mean those teams have had their full evaluations of Carter and didn’t see much of a reason to keep him around.
On top of that, Sac State didn’t exactly face top-tier competition. Carter’s opposites will be much faster than the defensive backs he faced in college, so it’s not hard to draw up conclusions he’ll struggle at the NFL level.
It’s also going to be tough for Carter to climb the depth chart. With the Niners re-signing slot receiver Jeremy Kerley and drafting former Louisiana Tech wideout Trent Taylor this year, Carter is buried pretty deep.
So he won’t have too many chances to line up opposite first- and second-team defenses during training camp.
What to Expect in 2017
Carter’s two-year, $1.02 million contract is enough to suggest the 49ers won’t look at him as the 90th man on a 90-man offseason roster.
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Sure, he’s buried deep behind a crop of speedy wideouts. But if he can offer up some abilities on special teams, he might be worth keeping around on a regular-season roster.
This is unlikely though, and there’s more of a chance for Carter making the practice squad (he’s eligible, having spent all of 2016 without a team).
As such, San Francisco likely keeps Carter as a reserve option should either Taylor and/or Kerley struggle or are injured.
Don’t expect much more.