WR Eric Rogers went down with a torn ACL on Thursday, but it was becoming increasingly unlikely that he would end up with a significant amount of playing time once the season started. At least, that was the impression from the team's training camp practices, which are now a full week in.
The wide receiver who appears to have the inside track to line up across from Torrey Smith when the 49ers open the season against the Los Angeles Rams at Levi's Stadium on September 12 is none other than Quinton Patton.
Patton appeared in all 16 games for the 49ers last season, starting four of them. During that time, he hauled in 30 passes for 394 yards and a touchdown. That's over 13 yards per reception. Despite playing in only 320 passing snaps in 2015, Patton was still the highest graded 49ers receiver according to advanced statistics site Pro Football Focus – even slightly better than Smith, who is nearly a lock to be the team's number one receiver in 2016.
While his receiving grade stayed within the same range for the majority of the season, his run support grade dramatically increased as the season progressed. That's important for a tweeked offensive line that looks to improve upon last year's poor showing and add support for a healthy Carlos Hyde.
On Saturday, Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee said that Patton was among those that were the most likely to start during Week 1.
Grant Cohn of the Press Democrat called Patton the best wide receiver on the field over the past two days, agreeing that he is likely to start against the Rams, but going as far as saying that he would likely be the man at the split end spot in that matchup. "Beat Keith Reaser with a post route for a long catch on the first play of 7 on 7s," reports Cohn from practice on Saturday.
"Quinton Patton provided the best highlight on a pad-less day of work," said Taylor Price of 49ers Media. "The fourth-year receiver caught a 40-yard deep ball from Blaine Gabbert down the left hashmarks. Patton continues to excel as a first-team receiver opposite of Torrey Smith."
Pro Football Focus listed Patton as a likely starter for the 49ers within a group of receivers that ranked among the worst in the league. Patton was drafted by the 49ers in the fourth round of the 2013 NFL Draft out of Louisiana Tech.
Could this be the season that the 6-foot Patton finally emerges as a legitimate receiving threat? He is hoping to prove that he is as training camp moves forward.