After being the San Francisco 49ers' return specialist in his rookie season, wide receiver Bruce Ellington and his 4.45 speed should have been set for a break out in 2015. In May, however, Trent Baalke actually revealed injury information to the media. During an interview with Mike Florio on Pro Football Talk's radio program, Baalke said Ellington was working through a slight hamstring issue.
At that point OTAs were still a week away. It was probably around that time that San Francisco 49ers head coach Jim Tomsula took the kid gloves off and had a "Man's Talk" with Ellington. Tomsula discussed this following Thursday's game:
I'll say something about Bruce Ellington. You know, it was spring and I wouldn't say I was a gentleman to him. When it comes to that and talking about, you know, getting in before practice, taking care of his body before practice, taking care of his body after practice, doing those regeneration things, the massages, taking advantage of those things. I didn't feel like he was doing that and we had a man's conversation. I will say that since then Bruce Ellington has done everything that I've asked him to do that way. His preparation before, the things he's doing with his body, and the effort that he's putting into that. I think he's terrific.
Ellington confirmed this when he spoke to the media after Tomsula.
It will keep me off the injury list, just getting in the ice tub, refreshing your body. That's a big part of playing football. Coming in I thought I was young and thought I don't need to stretch and I could just go out there and run but I realize that I can't. I have to take care of my body. I feel good. I don't think I'm 100% yet but it's getting there.
Ellington had aggravated the same hamstring that has been an issue in the past, but added that it is behind him now. He feels like he was able to finally hit his 5th gear on the 70-yard touchdown reception from former South Carolina teammate Dylan Thompson to open the game. It was very important for him to show productivity in this 4th preseason game as a wide receiver with the addition of Jarryd Hayne to the team.
Hayne returned 9 punts for 163 yards with a 18.1 average
Ellington returned 3 punts for 44 yards with a 14.7 average
Hayne returned one kick off for 33 yards
Ellington returned two kick offs for 41 yards
Note: Ellington was only active for the final two games.
Ellington wants to be the return guy but he knows it's not up to him. He needed to showcase his value and a 70 yard touchdown wasn't a bad way to do it.