When you take a look at the future of the San Francisco 49ers, there are a myriad of question marks surrounding the WR position. Will this be Michael Crabtree‘s last season with the team? Will Anquan Boldin have enough left in the tank to justify his 2015 salary? However, the biggest question on the current roster may have to do with a player who has three career receptions.
Quinton Patton was taken in the fourth round of the 2013 draft and was considered to be someone who could play a significant role in the offense with Crabtree sidelined for much of the year. Patton was in line to get a long look when a foot injury derailed his rookie campaign. He returned at the end of the season and showed flashes of ability, including a clutch 29-yard grab that in the closing minute of a last-second win over the Arizona Cardinals.
The 49ers have done their best to make sure there is depth at the receiver position as they have added Brandon Lloyd on a one-year deal, and will take a wideout (or two) in the upcoming draft. Even with some new faces coming into the fold, the 49ers must make sure that Patton sees enough snaps to continue his development.
Patton will mostly see action in three-WR sets in 2014, and while the 49ers only ran that formation 22.8 percent of the time in 2013 (league average was 54 percent), their interest in wideouts this offseason may signal a change in philosophy.
San Francisco would be wise to follow through on this change, as it would give Patton more of an opportunity to show what he can do when given an opportunity. Even if the 49ers spend a high draft pick on a receiver to be the future No. 1 option, contributions from Patton will still be critical moving forward.