With all due respect to the other free agents the San Francisco 49ers signed this offseason, no acquisition made a bigger splash around the league than Torrey Smith.
Over the past two seasons, the speedy wideout has totaled 15 touchdowns and more than 1,800 receiving yards. He also owns a career yards per catch average of 16.9, giving the 49ers the vertical threat they'd been missing in recent years.
Smith looked just as advertised in the offseason program, and through the first few days of training camp, he has made several highlight catches.
The fifth-year wideout spoke to the Bay Area media recently to discuss his evolution into a complete receiver, his relationship with Colin Kaepernick and moving from his home state of Maryland to California.
Question:How have you developed into an all-around receiver?
Smith: **It's an every-day process. I've been blessed with speed and that's something that I've been able to take advantage of over the years. I've had some great receiver coaches as well. And now here, we have former players as coaches. That's really been a blessing for me being around guys who understand the game. And then being around leaders like Anquan (Boldin) and Steve Smith. I've been lucky. I've been spoiled. A lot of guys don't have it as easy as I've had it. Being back with Anquan, just looking at the growth over the years, I can talk to him about certain things. He's seen me since day one, so he knows.
Question:Do you get tired of people only calling you a deep threat?
Smith:That's never going to stop. But I'm a wide receiver. My job is to get up and catch the ball, wherever it may be. I'll run whenever they tell me to. I may happen to be good at stretching the field or catching a short pass and turning it into something big, but labels are just that. I don't really care as long as I'm in the end zone.
Question:What do you want to see from the young wideouts in camp?
Smith:You just want to keep seeing growth and progress. It's their first camp, so I know how they feel. There's a lot of pressure. You start to worry about, 'Hey, am I going to be here the next day?' That's the reality of it. It's not college camp. It's the NFL. If you want to stay here, you have to work hard and take someone else's spot. We have some great rookies, and they are working hard and listening well. I'm looking forward to watching them compete.
Question:Has there been anything you didn't expect when you thought about working with Colin Kaepernick?
Smith: **I don't think there were any surprises. I've worked out with Kap for years. I've seen how talented he is. The thing people don't realize is how hard this guy works. And me seeing that at a workout facility is way different than me seeing it here. You see it in the classroom as a student, the way he communicates trying to make sure we're all on the same page. I have that much more respect for him. And that's not to say I didn't respect him before. His grind, man, there's no one who works harder than Kap. I'll say that to anyone. He wants to be great, and he's been working so when he goes out there, it'll all pay off.
Question:Has the move from Baltimore to California been difficult at all?
Smith:I've always been close to home, so being out here, I've actually been able to focus on football more. It's peaceful to me. I told my wife today, 'I love being out here.' I just have the opportunity to really focus on what I'm doing with no outside distractions. I've put my social media away for a few weeks until I get where I want to be. I'm ready to work. I've been in my comfort zone for forever. Where I went to high school to playing for the Ravens is literally off the same highway. I just constantly went up 95. It's been so close, and I've been so comfortable, so this is my first time being outside of that... it's been nice being kind of isolated.
Question:Why did you decide to turn off your social media for the time being? Was that an ask from Jim Tomsula?
Smith:No, but I'm sure if coach had it his way, we'd all throw our phones away. But for me with social media, I just learned that it's fun and there's a place and time for it, but during camp, I want to be focused on what I'm doing here. I don't want to be concerned with what's going on out there. I can watch the news, I can check things out, but there's something about being on your phone that draws you in. It's like an addiction in a lot of ways. So I learned that during my rookie camp, and now I put it away. It's been great for me.