We interrupt your regularly scheduled Colin Kaepernick news for something a little different. I'm not sure if it's simply because the San Francisco 49ers have had an inherent need at the position for so long, but rookie wide receivers tend to generate a lot of hype around here at Niners Nation.
Quinton Patton has a sizable bandwagon, which includes yours truly, and many expect big things out of him if he can find his way onto the field next season. But the 49ers have another young, promising receiver in Bruce Ellington. The 49ers took Ellington with the No. 106 pick in the 2014 NFL Draft -- a fourth-round pick.
Many of us are pretty high on Ellington as well as Patton. But it's not just 49ers fans who expect big things out of Ellington. Gil Brandt of NFL.com posted on impact players drafted on Day 3 back on Wednesday, and among them was Ellington:
Ellington -- cousin of Andre Ellington, a 2013 sixth-rounder who burst onto the scene as a rookie running back with the Arizona Cardinals -- is a speedy, quick and explosive player with tons of upside. A two-sport star, he spent just three of his four years at South Carolina playing football. (He skipped the 2010 football season while serving as a starting point guard for the Gamecocks' basketball team.) The more experience he gains, the better he'll be. He's athletic -- posting a 3.95-second short shuttle, a 6.69-second three-cone drill and a 39.5-inch vertical jump at the combine -- and can return kicks.
Obviously, he's not heavy on the details and it's a rather brief section, but it's nice to see that a player like Ellington is on someone's radar. Does it cheapen the sentiment knowing that he's appearing on a list specifically geared towards finding guys on Day 3? Nope!
Realistically, Ellington's best shot to see the field as a rookie will be as a returner. I don't foresee LaMichael James holding on to the return job or his roster spot, and Ellington is probably the best guy to step into that role. There will be competition of course, including with Patton, but I think Ellington is better-suited for that. Similarly, I think Patton can be a better wide receiver in general, but he'll need to avoid injuries.
With Michael Crabtree, Stevie Johnson and Anquan Boldin, I don't see a whole lot of Patton and Ellington on the field on offense. But with Boldin getting up there in years and Crabtree likely after a sizable contract (one I'm not certain the 49ers can pony up for), Patton and Ellington could easily be starters in the future.