SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- San Francisco 49ers general manager Trent Baalke summoned his inner Al Davis at the NFL combine last month when the said his team needed someone to take the top off a defense as a deep threat.
“I think it’s no mystery we’re looking for guys that can run and get down the field,” Baalke acknowledged.
Introducing Torrey Smith, who agreed to a five-year, $40 million deal, with $22 million guaranteed, to join the Niners, per ESPN NFL Insiders Adam Schefter and Adam Caplan.
Or, as Smith himself tweeted:
Bay Area!!!!!!— Torrey Smith (@TorreySmithWR) March 10, 2015
So what does Smith add to an offense that lost Pro Bowl left guard Mike Iupati to the Arizona Cardinals, bell-cow running back Frank Gore to the Indianapolis Colts and might lose a pair of receivers to free agency in Michael Crabtree and Brandon Lloyd and wideout Stevie Johnson to a salary-cap cut?
For another, the deep threat Baalke spoke of last month.
Smith, 26, has 44 catches of 25 yards or more since coming into the NFL as a second-round pick out of Maryland in 2011, seventh-most in the league in that time frame.
And his 16.9 yards-per-catch average is the highest in Ravens history. Last season, he had 10 touchdown catches in his final 11 games and drew 12 pass-interference calls for 261 yards, which led the NFL.
Then there’s this from Pro Football Focus: Smith had 51 receptions on targets of at least 20 yards from 2011 through last season, including the playoffs, while all Niners pass-catchers in that same span had 53 such receptions.
That’s getting deep.
Hey, quarterback Colin Kaepernick was enthused:
Of course, there’s another side to the story, and it is Smith’s battle to be consistent. He’s never been a true No. 1 receiver and only once has he caught more than 50 passes in a season -- 65 in 2013 for 1,128 yards.
Last season, he had a career-low 49 receptions and 11 drops.
But with so much uncertainty surrounding the Niners' receivers these days and with Boldin entering the final year of his contract, Smith does address a need. At least on paper.