As the 49ers wrapped up their first day of rookie minicamp on Friday, one of the stories that was written up all over the place was about Quinton Patton. Last week, Jim Harbaugh had a great story about Patton flying out to the Bay Area a week ahead of schedule. The team had to send him back home because the CBA does not permit rookies coming to the facility before the rookie minicamp (outside of the 24 hours immediately after they are selected).
Well, it turns out airplanes remain an issue for Patton. Apparently he could not find his identification and missed his first flight out to SF on Thursday. Obviously he made it out in time for camp, but I have to think this whole airplane thing will be brought up by plenty of veterans over the next few months.
What's more important is his work on the first day of practice. The reports indicated that he struggled with route-running. Apparently on one deep play, undrafted cornerback Darryl Morris had little trouble staying with Patton. Maiocco made a good point about how Crabtree can make his routes look similar. You could compare it to a baseball pitcher who can make his fastball, slider and curveball all look like they're coming from the same arm angle. When a receiver is predictable in his routes, the cornerback can anticipate and adjust. A slower cornerback could stick with faster receiver with that kind of anticipation. Conversely, a wide receiver could get past a faster cornerback because of solid route-running.
We've been wondering what caused Patton to slip when people said they thought he would go earlier. It sounds like his route-running really is the primary issue. The good news is his college coach, Sonny Dykes, had him watch a lot of film of Crabtree and Broncos wide receiver Wes Welker.
Once the veterans join the rookies, I would hope Patton follows Michael Crabtree and Anquan Boldin around non-stop over the next few months. That is one other reason rookie minicamp is too early to make judgments. While the coaches are incredibly important in developing the rookies, getting them around veterans is arguably just as important. They can watch them in person, ask questions and learn what it takes to be the best they can be at their position.