49ers release WR Torrey Smith

SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- The San Francisco 49ers' makeover on offense won't be limited to quarterbacks.

The Niners released wide receiver Torrey Smithon Tuesday.

Smith tweeted Monday, after reports surfaced that he would be released, that he expects to rebound in 2017.

"The 49ers would like to thank Torrey for representing this organization with tremendous class over the last two years," general manager John Lynch said in a statement. "I have always had great respect for his skill as a player and as a wonderful example of how professional athletes can use their platform to make a difference in our community. We wish Torrey, and his family, all the best."

Smith signed a five-year, $40 million contract with the 49ers in 2015, but his production in San Francisco hasn't come close to what it was with the Baltimore Ravens. In two seasons with the Niners, Smith had 53 catches for 930 yards and seven touchdowns in 28 games. He led the NFL in 2015 by gaining 20.1 yards per reception.

Smith, who turned 28 in January, was scheduled to count $9.475 million against the salary cap in 2017, though the Niners will save about half of that because the remaining portion of his $8 million signing bonus will now accelerate to count toward this year's cap.

Still, it's clear that Smith's release has little to do with saving money, since the NFLPA's latest salary cap report showed the Niners with a little more than $90 million in space before subtracting Smith.

Smith was the one big-ticket free agent the Niners have signed over the past three years, after he averaged 53.3 catches, 898 yards and 7.5 touchdowns in his first four seasons with the Ravens.

Smith's struggles in San Francisco haven't all fallen on his shoulders, though, as his role in the offense varied while the Niners struggled to find consistent quarterback play. In Baltimore, Smith's percentage of targets per route run was never less than 18 percent. With the Niners, that number dropped to 11.6 percent in 2015 and 12.7 percent last year.

In December he said he was knocked unconscious in a Week 14 loss to the New York Jets. Hemissed the 49ers' final three games with a concussion.

Even before the decision to release Smith became public, the Niners already figured to be scouring the market for help at wide receiver. San Francisco wideouts combined for 160 receptions, 1,777 yards and eight touchdowns in 2016. By comparison, Pittsburgh's Antonio Brown had 106 catches for 1,284 yards and 12 touchdowns.

The Niners re-signed slot receiver Jeremy Kerley over the weekend but have wideouts Quinton Patton and Rod Streater set to become unrestricted free agents on Thursday. The other receivers under team control for 2017 --Bruce Ellington, Chris Harper, Aaron Burbridge, Eric Rogers, DeAndre Smelter and DeAndre Carter-- have 41 career receptions as a group.

"Wide receiver, it's pretty obvious we need to get better there, and we will," Niners general manager John Lynch said last week at the NFL scouting combine

Various reports have linked the Niners to soon-to-be free agents such as Washington's Pierre Garcon, Chicago's Alshon Jeffery, the Rams' Kenny Britt and Cleveland's Terrelle Pryor. Garcon played for Niners coach Kyle Shanahan with the Washington Redskins in 2012 and 2013.

Smith won a Super Bowl ring with the Ravens in 2012, when Baltimore beat San Francisco 34-31 in Super Bowl XLVII. He had two receptions for 35 yards in the victory.

His best NFL season came the next year, when he finished with 65 catches for 1,128 yards and four touchdowns in 2013. He had a career-best 11 touchdown receptions in 2014, the season before he left the Ravens in free agency.
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