I’m sure he also intrigues, at least, some members of the San Francisco 49ers’ decision-making team. It wouldn’t surprise me a bit if the 49ers pursued the California native if, as expected, he becomes available.
There is a lot of 49ers love for Smith, who is likely on his way out of Carolina. He was actually teammates with 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh in 2001. After the 49ers beat Carolina in the playoffs in January, 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick tweeted a photo of him and Smith hugging after the game with the text: “respect the hell out of his game.”
Plus, the 49ers, who have snooped around some receivers recently, have been known to add aging stars, including receiver Randy Moss two years ago. Smith, who will turn 35 in May, had a nice year for the Panthers in 2013. He had 64 catches for 745 yards, proving he can still play.
The 49ers' starters are Michael Crabtree and Anquan Boldin. They will very likely look to add a speedster early in the draft. Quinton Patton, entering his second season, also figures to have a role. Adding a top rookie prospect and Smith wouldn’t necessarily be a problem. It would just give Kaepernick more weapons. There’s nothing wrong with that.
I asked ESPN analyst Matt Williamson his thoughts and he said he thinks Smith could be a fit because of his desire to win. It also would help the team bring along a rookie at a gradual pace.
For the short term, a trio of Crabtree, Boldin and Smith would be pretty intriguing. Boldin and Smith are third-down monsters. Someone would always be open, especially if the 49ers get the right speed guy in the draft. I’m sure there would be other fine fits for Smith, but there’s reason to believe why the 49ers could be an interesting fit themselves.