The San Francisco 49ers were a bit quiet on offense to start Sunday's preseason opener, but the third drive of the game showed how strong the offense can look. Colin Kaepernick completed six straight passes in driving the 49ers offense to the first unit's first preseason touchdown.
A key player on the drive was rookie wide receiver Quinton Patton. The fourth round pick had been practicing throughout training camp, but a finger fracture kept him out of the first two preseason games. Patton made his debut Sunday afternoon, and looked incredibly sharp as he caught four passes for 35 yards and a touchdown. On his touchdown catch, he extended his route in the end zone, buying Kap time to fire it in. On his other catches, he showed a slipperiness that allowed him to pick up extra yards after the catch.
After the game, Kap was asked a couple questions about Patton:
With [WR] Quinton Patton, seeing him out this week, what were your thoughts on his playmaking and touchdown catch?
"He is a great player. He is someone he just knows football. He knows how to get open. He knows how to make plays. I am looking forward to seeing what he can do for us."
With [Patton's] hand injury, how much chemistry were you guys developing in camp prior to tonight?
"He is someone that it is easy to have chemistry with. He knows where windows are in defenses. He knows how to get open."
As you might have noticed, in both answers, Kap included the statement, "He knows how to get open." You know a quarterback is going to like having a receiver who can slip into the holes in the defense, and find ways to make plays.
The 49ers entered training camp with serious question marks at wide receiver. They knew they had Anquan Boldin, but other than that, there were questions with other wide receiver on the roster. Quinton Patton injured his finger right off the bat, Kyle Williams suffered the hamstring injury after rehabbing his torn ACL, and the rest of the wide receiver corps was a mish-mash of all sorts of random spare parts.
We now our close to the end of the preseason, and while we don't have any sure answers, it does seem like the 49ers wide receiver corps has a little more immediate potential than some might have thought. With Patton in particular, he seems to have the kind of attitude Harbaugh loves, and he combines that with an apparently strong ability to make plays. It was only one preseason game, but we've heard multiple reports about the work Patton puts in at practice. Even when he could not catch passes, he was running routes and eying the passes. And given that he seems to have convinced the staff to let him catch passes one-handed, that has to say something.
It's easy to get too excited about a single preseason game, and primarily a single preseason series. That being said, I am happy to feel a bit more optimistic about the 49ers wide receivers heading into the regular season. We'll need to see this kind of production on a consistent basis, but it's hard not to get excited about what Quinton Patton might bring to the table.
And we know he gets excited!