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Bruce Ellington will retain returner job for now, but likely can't afford another fumble

Will Bruce Ellington finish the season as the San Francisco 49ers returner? He's got a lot of work if he wants to hold on to the job.

The San Francisco 49ers will continue with Bruce Ellington as their returner this weekend, but he is skating on thin ice, according to special teams coach Thomas McGaughey. Ellington has struggled to get many big returns this year, and the last two weeks he has fumbled the ball on returns. He recovered his fumble in Week 11 against the Seattle Seahawks, but lost a muffed punt return in Week 12 against the Arizona Cardinals.

McGaughey was asked about Ellington's fumbles, and he said he can't afford any more. He pointed to the New England Patriots returner who had a fumble this past week, and was subsequently cut by the team. I don't think Ellington will be cut with another fumble, but considering how little he plays on offense, would that really be all that shocking?

Ellington is not doing a whole lot of much to date, and the coaches do not seem inclined to provide any alternate opportunities, so it comes down to his return abilities. And right now, they are not exactly ideal. This week, and really the remaining four games after that are pretty huge for him. They're huge for everybody, but not every player is on the thin ice that Ellington would appear to be on at this point.