Wide receiver Quinton Patton is halfway through the final year of his original 49ers contract, and he is making a bid to show that he can be part of the team’s future.
He said he is not thinking about it in those terms, but that is the reality of the 49ers right now. The organization must determine which players – especially which free-agents-to-be -- are worth keeping around off a team that is currently 1-7 and showing no signs of improvement.
“I don’t even think about the final games,” Patton said after he recorded career-bests with six catches for 106 yards in the 49ers’ 41-23 loss to the New Orleans Saints last weekend.
“I just had this game on my mind. Next week I have (the Arizona Cardinals) on my mind and after that I don’t know who we play. It is just game by game and whatever happens, happens.”
Patton heads into Sunday’s game against the Cardinals playing the best football of his career. In the past three games, Patton has 13 catches for 171 yards. Patton is on pace to nearly double his production from his previous three NFL seasons. Patton has 25 catches for 293 yards.
Torrey Smith, the 49ers’ expected No. 1 receiver, has 15 receptions for 217 yards. The 49ers signed Smith last year to a five-year, $40 million contract as a free agent. Patton looks like the better fit for the 49ers' offense, as a player who has more versatility with his route-running.
“The one thing I love about QP is just the energy that he brings every single day,” 49ers coach Chip Kelly said. “He’s a very consistent person. He’s the same guy every day and he’s a high-energy guy every day.
“I think he just has a better understanding and really a comfort level in terms of what we’re doing now and you’re starting to see his numbers kind of increase as the season’s gone along. . . Hopefully, we’ll continue to see him grow more.”
Patton’s energy was evident at the time the 49ers selected him in the fourth round of the 2013 draft. Eager to get to work, Patton boarded a plane and flew to the Bay Area. He was sent back home because it was against NFL rules for him to report before the team’s upcoming rookie minicamp.
“He’s someone, he comes out and works every day,” 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick said of Patton. “You’re going to get everything he has every play in practice, on the game field. For me, it’s exciting because he’s someone I’ve been close to and to see him come out, be a starter now, be a significant part of this offense and make big plays for us, it’s exciting. It’s great to see that.”
Patton said he believes he can thrive in Kelly’s system.
“If you are a receiver, you know how to play receiver, this is the perfect offense for you,” he said. “It gives you a little bit of freedom and at the same time everything is everything.”