Each year, we run a series of post called "90-in-90" here at Niners Nation. The idea is that we'll take a look at every single player on the roster, from the very bottom to the top and break them down a few different ways. This is to help give everyone a basic understanding of a roster. Of course, this roster will change, and some days we'll have more than one so it's not strictly one per day but Fooch is a crazy person who manages this blog with no rhyme or reason and it's worked so far. Who am I to argue?
It's hard to let go when it comes to offensive skill position players, isn't it? Giving up on a young receiver or running back is often difficult, as someone who can write a whole lot of words about one Dominique Zeigler and one Thomas Clayton, and has in the past. It's far, far too early to give up on guys like Quinton Patton or Bruce Ellington, but suggesting I have any idea what they can actually contribute going forward or what the San Francisco 49ers' wide receiver depth chart will look like would be disingenuous.
Regardless, I'm going to do my best to offer up a view of the first guy on that list -- Patton. Oscar will have a 90-in-90 breakdown for Ellington at some point in the future.
Patton, 24, was a fourth-round pick by the 49ers in 2013. He's coming into his third season in the league, and he's got 10 games of experience under his belt. In that time, he's had the ball thrown his way 13 times. He's caught six of those passes for 78 yards and a pair of first downs. Obviously, there's not a whole lot to work with there.
Last season, Patton saw decent action in Week 16 and Week 17, taking part in 76 of 140 snaps in the two games. From what I saw, he looked OK, he just didn't see many targets go his way. I thought his routes looked solid and that he probably had a better game than many gave him credit for in Week 16. Patton was open multiple times, effectively using his body positioning to hold the edge over the defensive back covering him.
The ball never went his way, and that could have a lot to do with a lack of faith in his unproven, untested ability.
Of course, by writing what I've said thus far, I imagine I'll draw the ire of one of Niners Nation's most prolific bandwagons. I don't think folks who support Patton or who expect him to break out are crazy, though. In fact, there were multiple reports out of organized team activities that Patton was one of the more impressive players on the field.
It's still unclear where Patton fits on the depth chart, however. He's still young -- he'll turn 25 in August -- and we've seen enough of his play in college to know he can be an effective receiver. But it's all about whether or not he gets his chances and whether or not he can take advantage of them if and when he does. I'm a Patton fan, but realistically, I don't know what to expect.
Why he could improve in 2015:
This is pretty obvious in Patton's case, right? He could see passes thrown his way, period. If Patton has a strong training camp, he could put himself up over Ellington and Jerome Simpson, and the plethora of undrafted receivers the 49ers brought in this offseason. Patton needs to take advantage of his opportunities and thus far, he's done that. Simply earning snaps early and often will result in Patton's improvement -- him seeing the field and doing less than he did in 2014 is virtually impossible at this stage.
Why he could regress in 2015:
I guess technically he could be buried on the depth chart, never see the field and then he's regressed. But Patton is essentially a rookie at this point in that there's no real avenue for proper regression. He'll either contribute or he won't, and he'll either be healthy or he won't. Those are the factors at play.
Odds of making the roster:
Were I not in such a good mood today, I'd just put a shrug emote here and call it a day. The 49ers have 13 receivers on the team at the moment, and a handful of receiving tight ends to boot. Patton should have a leg up on all but two of those guys, or at least on equal footing with two others. It's way too difficult to tell what happens with the receivers but I think Patton's spot on the roster is relatively safe, even if he doesn't find his way onto the field. I'll go with a 70 percent chance of making the roster for 2015-16.