It wasn’t that long ago that wide receiver Rod Streater appeared poised for big things in the NFL.
After making the Raiders as an undrafted rookie in 2012 – and picking up the nickname “Hot Rod” – he had 39 catches for 584 yards in his debut year and 60 in 2013 for 888 yards and four touchdowns. Over his first two seasons he averaged 14.9 yards per reception and his 6-foot-3, 200-pound frame and ability to catch the ball in traffic earned him praise from quarterbacks and coaches.
As the 2014 season approached, Oakland’s then-offensive coordinator Greg Olson said Streater was a leader on the team and for the entire receiving corps.
“I think when you’re talking about self-starters and self-motivated people, Rod Streater is that guy in the room to me,” said Olson.
But an injury early that season wiped out nearly his entire year. In 2014 and 2015 he played just four games, caught 10 passes and bounced from the Raiders to the Chiefs. This season, he made the 49ers roster, but for much of the season has been a forgotten piece on a forgettable, thin and ineffective receiving corps.
Heading into this past Sunday’s game against the Dolphins, Streater had played sparingly, catching just four passes. But with injuries to others giving him an opportunity again, Streater saw 44 snaps against Miami and had four catches in five passes thrown his way.
Now, as the 49ers head toward Sunday’s matchup in Chicago against the Bears, Streater figures to get more opportunities over the final five games of the season.
He had one 25-yard catch vs. the Dolphins – his longest reception since 2013 – and averaged 11.5 yards per catch.
Niners head coach Chip Kelly says Streater made the most of his chance.
“I think with Streat, all this is a meritocracy and he merits playing time,” Kelly told reporters Wednesday. “I thought what he did was really valuable for us, especially late in that fourth quarter where he made some really big plays.”
Kelly also praised fellow wideout Chris Harper, who also saw more playing time and contributed with two catches for 32 yards.
Said Kelly: “It’s about trying to get the ball in playmakers’ hands, and those guys did a really good job.”
Sunday’s game in Chicago is scheduled to kick off at 10 a.m. in the Bay Area.