ENGLEWOOD, Col. – The 49ers enter the second game of the exhibition season still looking for one or more of their young wide receivers to emerge from the crowd.
Eric Rogers, coming over after success in the Canadian Football League, showed some flashes before sustaining a torn ACL during the first week of camp and being lost for the season.
DeAndre Smelter, a fourth-round pick a year ago, has not had the opportunity to develop due to a hamstring strain that sidelined him during the offseason program and has kept out of the past week of practices. He is expected to return in the next week to play his first preseason game of his career.
Slot receiver Bruce Ellington, perhaps the 49ers’ most-improved player through the first two weeks of training camp, did not take part in the past two practices after sustaining an ankle sprain Sunday in the exhibition opener against the Houston Texans.
“Seeing who those guys are, who those ones and twos are, has been a little bit difficult just because of the injury thing,” 49ers coach Chip Kelly said. “What we do need to see is consistency. We haven’t really seen a ton of that right now. We’ve seen them flash, which is awesome because you know what they can do, but it’s being consistent not only on a daily basis but really, on a play-to-play basis, that you can count of them.
“He makes a big play here and then all of a sudden you’re gone. You know, it’s really trying to find out who those guys are. No one I can say off the top of my head has just jumped off of it, but I think we’ve got confidence in the group that we have. It’s just can they put it all together on a consistent basis.”
During the two days of practices against the Denver Broncos, rookie Aaron Burbridge caught three passes during team drills. Torrey Smith, the 49ers’ clear No. 1 receiver, caught two passes, while DeAndrew White and undrafted rookie Bryce Treggs caught two passes apiece.
Quarterback Blaine Gabbert said he has liked what he’s seen from the slot receivers who have taken more reps with Ellington sidelined.
“The guy that’s really stood out the last couple of days with Bruce being out is DeAndrew White,” Gabbert said. “He’s had to take a lot of reps. Him and Bryce, especially in the slot. They’ve been running their tails off. It’s been tough work for them.
“But, for guys like that, it’s the experience going against the ones, the twos, it’s invaluable. The more reps they get, the more comfortable the get in this system, it’s just going to help them in the long run. They’re doing a tremendous job.”
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