Either way, Smith is excited.
“It’s not rocket science. Football is football. Plays are plays,” Smith told CSN Bay Area. “It’s the way they scheme it up and put it together. The way I watch it from afar, (Shanahan) tailors it to people’s strengths, which is always a plus. So I’m excited to see what his plan is for us.”
Smith did not become a bad wide receiver after he signed a four-year deal with the 49ers back in 2015. Instead, he entered a massively confused Jim Tomsula system followed by the equally puzzling Chip Kelly era. Neither offense seemed interested in dialing up the long, vertical plays that have become a respected part of Smith’s repertoire. In 2015, his targets dropped by 30 from his last year in Baltimore. The following season, by another 13.
“The offense, I have experience with it,” Smith said. “I’m interested to see how he teaches it. You just have to execute. But with his track record, it kind of speaks for itself. I’m excited for him to have that opportunity. He’s a young guy. I feel like he could fit in our locker room. He looks that young. He has a proven track record and he knows what he’s doing. It’s his time, so I’m excited for him.”
Shanahan did not establish himself with the Falcons, of course. He got the most out of some replacement-level offenses in Cleveland and Houston, coaching Matt Schaub to a Pro Bowl. He is still the only coordinator to squeeze something out of Robert Griffin III.
So his tenure will be interesting not only because it’s being overseen by a first-time general manager in John Lynch, but because in Year 1, Shanahan will have no choice but to make the best of the talent he has on the roster. The offense was neglected for years, to the point where journeyman Jeremy Kerley led the club with a staggering 115 targets. Who will be Shanahan’s version of Gabriel or Sanu in San Francisco?