Even before he got a chance to line up for a pass route or see any significant action during the preseason, San Francisco 49ers rookie wide receiver Quinton Patton caught the eye of many with his eagerness to fly out to the 49ers’ team facility to get his NFL career started. Being that he was a fourth-round draft pick, one could understand his eagerness to leave a good impression and win a spot on the 53-man roster.
After a solid preseason it appeared as though Patton would go on to have a solid regular season, but a lack of playing time early on and a foot injury which saw him only active for six regular season games meant that the impact Patton would have in his rookie season was minimal at best. In his rookie season, Patton had three receptions for 34 yards and one rush for 26 yards. Given such minimal productivity, the fact that Patton ended the season as the team’s No. 3 wide receiver means that Patton figures to be relied upon during the 2014 season.
With that in mind, as has been reported by several writers and the 49ers themselves, Colin Kaepernick approached Patton on the flight home after the NFC Championship Game loss to the Seattle Seahawks and told the wideout that he would be working out with Kaepernick this offseason down in Miami. While this might not mean much, the fact is that for Patton and the 49ers offense this is the first step towards what could be productive partnership during the 2014 season.
Independent of whether or not Anquan Boldin is re-signed by the 49ers this upcoming season, it appears that Patton is set to enter this offseason as the 49ers No. 3 receiver on the depth chart. Kaepernick trusted throwing the football to Boldin, Vernon Davis, and Michael Crabtree upon his return. Keeping that in mind, developing trust and getting reps in with a wide receiver other than the three mentioned above is crucial in helping Kaepernick develop as a passer and to help the 49ers offense add another dimension.
Even in limited play, Patton has shown flashes of what he can do if the football is thrown in his direction. At the same time, the 49ers and Kaepernick cannot expect to go through another season where by it can get away with relying upon throwing to three players for the bulk of their passing plays. Therefore hearing that Kaepernick has taken upon himself to have Quinton Patton work out with him this offseason can only be beneficial for the both players and for the 49ers’ offense come the 2014 season.