The San Francisco 49ers have Torrey Smith, possibly Anquan Boldin and then a massive question mark at the wide receiver position going into the 2016-17 season. Smith has shown that he's a reliable target and Boldin is among the best possession receivers of all time, but the former hasn't done well against No. 1 cornerbacks in the past and the latter won't be around much longer.
After that there is Quinton Patton and Bruce Ellington, a pair of receivers who have, at various times, been the subject of massive bandwagons here at Niners Nation and have received a ton of praise from 49ers coaches. Behind them is DeAndre Smelter, who is also a question mark due to his rookie season being eliminated by a pre-existing injury.
DeAndrew White and Jerome Simpson are two guys who .... probably won't amount to much.
I have high hopes for Smelter, but at the same time, I also had high hopes for Patton and Ellington. And I'm starting to think that it's getting to be that time where we can't talk about what those guys could be, but what they won't be.
Patton has made some big plays, but he's also made plenty of boneheaded mistakes. He is inconsistent at best and not a reliable target for Blaine Gabbert or any other quarterback. Ellington cannot stay healthy, and he also has questionable decision-making when he gets the football in his hands.
These guys haven't been given a ton of playing time, but they've been given enough over the years that I think it's about time to close the book on them as potential starting receivers.
Or at the very least, get them in the game now and throw the ball to them ... a lot. Force them the ball and see what happens. The season is going nowhere, let Patton or Ellington sink or swim against a soft Cleveland defense that's missing both Joe Haden and Justin Gilbert. The Browns rank 25th in the league against the pass, and Gabbert could be in line for a big day.
I think we know that neither Smith nor Boldin want to sit on the sideline, but if either Patton or Ellington are going to be anything going forward, I think it would fit the 49ers best to see what that is now.