Wide receiver DeAndre Smelter has been with the 49ers for nearly a year, but on Monday he joins the team.
After sustaining a torn ACL in November 2014, Smelter spent his entire rookie season on the sideline after 49ers general manager Trent Baalke selected him in the fourth round of last year’s draft.
Although he was allowed to practice for three weeks late last season while on the non-football injury list, the 49ers took no chances. But with the opening of the third week of the team’s offseason program on Monday, there are now no restrictions on Smelter.
“It’s not even on my mind,” Smelter said of his surgically repaired knee. “I don’t even like to think about it -- or talk about it. I’m feeling good. I just want to stay fresh and get ready for the season. . . Physically, I’m just doing what everybody else is doing.”
And, beginning Monday, that means being able to run routes and catch passes with the coaches on the field. Coaches were not allowed on the field during the first two weeks of the offseason program, which began April 4.
“I was just looking forward to being back,” Smelter said. “Last year, I was on side practice field all day rehabbing and stuff. Just being able to be out there with the coaches and all of the players, it’s going to be a step ahead for me.”
Smelter (6 foot 2, 227 pounds) is one of the young receivers who could influence the 49ers when it comes to whether they pursue bringing back veteran wide receiver Anquan Boldin for another season.
Smelter is a physical receiver in the mold of Boldin. He can catch passes in traffic. He is also younger and faster. But whereas Boldin, the 49ers’ leader in receiving each of his three seasons with the club, is a proven commodity, Smelter is still learning the game.
The Minnesota Twins selected Smelter in the 14th round of the baseball draft in 2010, but he chose to attend Georgia Tech on a baseball scholarship. He was the Yellow Jackets’ top reliever, but a nagging shoulder injury forced him to turn to football. He had not played football since his junior year of high school.
In two seasons as a receiver in Georgia Tech’s triple-option offense, Smelter caught 56 passes for 1,060 yards and 11 touchdowns.
The 49ers could look to add a receiver in the draft to go along with Torrey Smith, Quinton Patton and Bruce Ellington, Jerome Simpson and DeAndrew White. Those five are the only wideouts under contract who caught passes for the 49ers last season.