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Ronald Curry Evaluates 49ers Wide Receivers

It's an eclectic group of pass-catchers in the San Francisco 49ers wide receivers room.

There's the established veteran and leading receiver the past two seasons, Anquan Boldin.

There are two free-agent acquisitions, Jerome Simpson and Torrey Smith.

You have three recent draft picks at the position: Quinton Patton, Bruce Ellington and DeAndre Smelter.

And finally, there's the undrafted rookies: Dres Anderson, Issac Blakeney, DiAndre Campbell, Chuck Jacobs (now in his third season), DeAndrew White and the recently-signed Mario Hull.

That's 12 wideouts in all.

First-year receivers coach Ronald Curry, who spent seven years as an NFL receiver with the Oakland Raiders, broke down the group recently during a post-minicamp media session.

Curry started with the 49ers two projected starters - Boldin and Smith, receivers who are reuniting in San Francisco after playing two seasons together with the Baltimore Ravens. Boldin joined the offseason program last week for mandatory minicamp after taking the rest of the offseason to work out independently and spend time with his family.

"It's always good to see Anquan," Curry said. "He's a player's pro. He brings an element that the room needs. He's a great veteran. He played with Torrey and kind of mentored him with the Ravens, so I think Torrey is happy to have him back."

Since taking over as the Ravens No. 1 receiver following Boldin's departure to the 49ers, Smith recorded a career-high 1,128 receiving yards in 2013 and a career-high 11 touchdowns in 2014. The production made him one of San Francisco's marquee free-agent signings this offseason.

Smith is heralded for his speed, often leaving cornerbacks in his wake. The former Maryland star had at least one catch of 50-plus yards in each of his first four NFL seasons. But Curry said Smith has given the 49ers much more than his ability to stretch the field. 

"I think he is a lead by example type of guy," Curry said. "He just goes out there and performs. He's a perfectionist at his craft, and he hates to make mistakes. He's a pro. He expects perfection, he chases it and he wants to be the best. That's good to see because he's God-gifted, and the sky's the limit for him."

A more under-the-radar signing was Simpson. After running into off-field trouble, the 6-foot-2 receiver missed the entire 2014 season.  Like Smith, Simpson brings top-end speed to the 49ers receiving corps. Simpson's career-long reception went for 84 yards.

"That's Jerome. We mess with him and tell him that he only has one speed and that's full speed. He can't even jog slow," Curry said. "He's a good guy to watch work. It's good for the young guys to sit back and watch how he works. He brings some athleticism to the team. It will be great to see how he translates from practice to OTAs to minicamp to preseason to the games."

Simpson was a standout during OTAs and minicamp, making highlight plays on a near-daily basis.

"He was able to get his body where it needed to be before we started practicing," Curry said. "They came in and conditioned and worked out for two weeks. Then we got on the field without anyone out there. We called it 'Class on the grass.'

"Once we got ramped up, his body was back to where everyone else was. He's a guy that's naturally built, flexible, stringy - those things that he's not going to lose. His bounce-back is a lot different than anyone else that was going to miss a year."

All of the undrafted rookie receivers had their moments during the team's offseason program. Above all, however, was White.

The man who started across from Amari Cooper with the Alabama Crimson Tide left a lasting impression in minicamp, catching back-to-back touchdowns to close the final practice. On the second of the scores, White made a leaping catch in the back of the end zone, tapping both toes inbounds before his momentum carried him out of the field of play.

The catches impressed Curry, but the receivers coach was coy about glorifying White's minicamp performance.

"I think DeAndrew worked hard," Curry said. "He got better and better, but I wouldn't say he separated himself from anybody. We don't crown anyone when we're in shorts. He's worked hard, I don't want to take anything from him, but we still have a long way to go."

Another name to not sleep on is Patton. The 49ers fourth-round pick in 2013 is entering his third season. While the on-field production has been quiet, six receptions for 78 yards in two seasons, Patton has shown glimpses of his potential this offseason.

"Quinton Patton has always flashed," Curry said. "He's going to get a real opportunity to go out there and see what he can do. I've been here since he was a rookie, and just to see him grow as a player and a person is great to see. He's always been dedicated, he's always been focused, he's always worked hard, he's smart and it's going to be interesting to see how he does in this camp."

When asked what Patton has been missing in his game, Curry made it simple.

"An opportunity," Curry said. "And he'll get it."

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