Young wide receivers and running backs tend to draw the largest following here on Niners Nation. Quinton Patton's bandwagon is huge, Tre and I held down the Dominique Zeigler war wagon a few years ago, Kory Sheets was a thing and does anybody remember Thomas Clayton? There's just something about these guys, usually drafted late or at least outside of the top two rounds, that gets fans going.
Again, Patton is that guy right now, despite a rookie season somewhat limited by injury. But the 49ers got another wide receiver relatively early on in the draft, and he's getting a considerable amount of hype as well: Bruce Ellington.
Ellington has made plenty of lists recently, in regards to potential breakout players early on, or impact players drafted in the later rounds. Recently, SI.com called him San Francisco's underrated draft pick this season. We've taken a few looks at him ourselves, on top of that.
You can add Rob Rang of CBS Sports to the list of folks who think Ellington could surprise at the next level. In a series called "Finding The Fits," they're looking at some of the more "intriguing" picks made in the recent draft. It's essentially an underrated/sleeper series, and they're going with Ellington for the 49ers.
Here's some of what they had to say:
Patience can be a virtue and Ellington is a good bet to prove just that for the 49ers. He has terrific agility, very good hands and a compact 197 pounds packed onto his 5-foot-9 frame that makes him much stronger after the catch than his height might indicate -- traits which could make him a very good slot receiver. He ran well at the NFL Combine (clocking at 4.45 seconds in the 40-yard dash) but is even faster on the field because he accelerates so suddenly. The bigger corners of the NFC West may struggle changing directions as fluidly as Ellington -- a theory that Seattle and St. Louis are also experimenting with given the huge investments made in Percy Harvin and Tavon Austin, respectively.
They actually write a few paragraphs on it, which is nice -- we generally get a short blurb in this situation -- so head over to the full link to see all that they have to say. Ellington is a popular pick for this kind of thing, and it's not a recent development -- many of the immediate post-draft grades we saw had Ellington billed as a potential sleeper.
When it comes down to it, I'm not sure how often he sees the field as a rookie. It would likely take an injury we just don't want to see, but on the other hand, I think Ellington does provide a lot of things that the other receivers on this list just don't. Stevie Johnson is plenty fast and shifty, but Ellington is much quicker, and that might be his avenue to see the field, though he'd probably have to have a strong preseason for it.
I'm pretty excited to see what Ellington and Patton are able to do in the future, though I don't expect either of them to do much this season. But if the two develop, they have complimentary skillsets, which might be key in a post-Anquan Boldin and potentially post-Michael Crabtree world.