Each year, we like to run a series of posts called "90-in-90." The idea is that we'll take a look at every player on the roster, from the very bottom to the top and break them down a few ways. This roster will certainly change, and some days we'll have more than one so it's not exactly 90 players in 90 days. At this point, it's a name we're keeping around for street cred.
Wide receiver Quinton Patton has a pretty significant bandwagon here on Niners Nation. And while I can't claim that I am driving the thing, or that I was the first in, I'm pretty big on what he can potentially bring to the table. I was ecstatic when the San Francisco 49ers drafted him and, of course, I was a little bummed out when he didn't have an insane rookie year.
Then again, my expectations were probably a little out of whack. Patton didn't get a ton of playing time, primarily due to injuries. Nothing can kill the hype like an injury. Whatever the case, he finished the 2013 season with three receptions for 34 yards. Thrilling, right?
The "bulk" of his production came in a game against the Arizona Cardinals. I put together some .gifs of Patton's strong play, and Fooch posted about it back on Dec. 30. We saw Patton take a beautiful end-around for a first down, Patton make a huge block to spring Anquan Boldin, and Patton make a beautiful catch over an Arizona defender.
It was a microcosm of what we want to see out of Patton. We want that game, with a couple more catches, 16 times next season. That's what we all want, but the first step to doing that is remaining healthy. We saw Patton run some solid routes, showcase good hands, ball skills and a willingness to block ... but there was precious little to actually see in the grand scheme of things.
Why he might improve:
There's just a ton of room for improvement. If he's healthy and he finds his way onto the field, then he'll show an improvement. He's got another year in this system, some strong receivers to learn from, and will have plenty of chances to succeed. The 49ers have three strong receivers ahead of him with Boldin, Michael Crabtree and Stevie Johnson, but if the 49ers work him in, that means Patton will have plenty of time against nickel cornerbacks.
Why he might regress:
Maybe he doesn't see the field at all. There's three guys above him, and Bruce Ellington surely will be trying to make his case for a chance to find his way onto the field, as well. Injury concerns probably don't need to be stated, either. I really think the only way he "regresses" is if we simply don't see him.
Odds of making the roster:
I'd say Patton is pretty safe, but who knows at this point? Getting rid of a guy like him wouldn't seem like a smart move for the future. I'd think that Patton's only means off of this football team is if the 49ers like Ellington a whole lot. Patton and Ellington fulfill the same role at this point, they're just at different points (in other words, Patton has a year on him). I think the 49ers will find a spot for both of them, regardless of the veterans they keep around, however.