DeAndre Smelter still has love for baseball, his former sport of choice.
The San Francisco 49ers wideout explained how he used non-traditional workout methods to help with his current occupation. As Smelter was training for his first full offseason in the National Football League, the 6-foot-2 wideout said he ran routes while wearing a baseball glove so he could field baseballs being hurled by friends.
Smelter, a former two-sport standout at Georgia Tech and draft pick of the Minnesota Twins, did the route-running drills just to "switch it up a little bit."
San Francisco's fourth-round draft pick from last season shared more details on his offseason mindset, unique training methods and where he fits into Chip Kelly's offense in a Wednesday media session from inside of Levi's® Stadium.
The most important thing for Smelter now is to showcase how he can fully run routes and catch footballs after missing the 2015 season due to a torn ACL suffered in a college game on Nov. 29, 2014.
When asked about the upcoming practice sessions where he'll get to showcase his improved health for a new coaching staff, Smelter said he was more concentrated on the little things that come along with an NFL offseason program.
"Last year, I was on the side, (on the) practice field all day rehabbing," he said. "Just being able to be out there with the coaches and all the players is going to be a step ahead for me."
Smelter is one of nine receivers currently on the 49ers roster, and he's a potential candidate do step into a key role in 2016. Veteran wide receiver Anquan Boldin remains unsigned, which creates potential snaps for young wideouts like Smelter.
"I think I have a good opportunity just like everyone else," the Georgia Tech product said. "As long as I come out here and work hard, I feel like I'll have an opportunity to get done what I think I'm able to do."
Smelter spoke confidently about San Francisco's wide receiving corps and the potential for them to replace a stalwart like Boldin, who has led the team in receiving for the past three seasons.
"We have a lot of depth at receiver," Smelter said. "I feel like no matter who they put in that role, I feel like everybody will be able to come in there and produce."
Check out select photos of San Francisco 49ers players working out on the field and in the weight room during phase one of the offseason.
Smelter added that he felt like he could have played last season when his three-week practice window was opened on Nov. 16. Although the 49ers elected not to activate him off the Non-Football Injury List, Smelter made it clear that his prior setback was yesterday's news.
"It's not even on my mind," he said. "I don't even like to think about it, or talk about it. I'm feeling good. I'm just trying to stay fresh and get ready for the season."
Smelter picked up veteran-like training methods from Boldin and Torrey Smith during his rookie campaign. He credited both wideouts for helping him learn how to improve his off-the-field preparations.
Smelter's 227-pound frame and size-11 hands make him one of the biggest pass-catching targets on the 49ers roster.
Asked what fans can expect from him in his first NFL campaign, Smelter shared a telling quote.
"That's a great question, but I don't like talking about myself," he said. "I just like to bring physicality to the game. I just like to play hard, and I'm still learning."