One of the other less talked about storylines on Saturday’s preseason game between the San Francisco 49ers and the Houston Texans wasn’t on the 49ers’ side of the ball, but on the Texans. That’s because one Bruce Ellington quickly became DeSean Watson’s go-to receiver in that game. With DeAndre Hopkins sitting out the game, someone had to catch the ball, and Ellington obliged — finishing with four receptions for 50 yards, including a 37 yard gash, and a touchdown.
Not bad for a preseason matchup where he wasn’t even playing the entire game. So who here remembers Bruce Ellington? Anyone? Of course you do, because his former team was on the other side of the ball.
In 2014, 49ers had failed at finding a fast slot receiver, trying Kyle Williams, A.J. Jenkins, and others. Then there was Ellington. A South Carolina receiver who caught the eye of scouts as being a fast prospect. Then-49ers GM Trent Baalke pulled the trigger in the fourth round and Ellington entered the professional ranks.
Unfortunately he could never play a full season due to injuries.
Despite playing in 13 games in each of 2014 and 2015, Bruce Ellington seemed to get held out an awful lot. He was placed on IR in 2016 and released in 2017 when Kyle Shanahan and John Lynch came in. He went to the Jets and in some sort of sick irony, failed his physical. He later landed with the Texans.
Then he wasn’t too bad.
In 2017 he played in 11 games and amassed 330 yards. Nothing earth shattering, but he lended himself a few highlights. Which is why it was interesting seeing him as the one gashing the 49ers defense. Sure, this is a much different team than the ones he was a part of with Jim Harbaugh, Jim Tomsula, and Chip Kelly, but those three didn’t show him the door, Kyle Shanahan did.
It all could have been a sweet story, one even a 49ers fan could admire—if it wasn’t for the fact it was a preseason game. So many of us wanted to see Bruce Ellington succeed. Yours truly thought his pick in the 4th round was genius and he’d make himself right at home. Boy, was I wrong about that. He wasn’t at all a bad receiver, just either meh in any system he was in, or injured.
In any case, it was somewhat entertaining moment seeing Bruce Ellington be the one to slice the 49ers defense on the Texans opening drive. Good luck Bruce. Now just stay healthy.