SANTA CLARA –- Bruce Ellington has committed two fumbles in the 49ers' past two games.
If that streak gets extended to three in a row on Sunday against the Chicago Bears, he will lose his job as the 49ers’ primary return, according to special-teams coordinator Thomas McGaughey.
“You put the ball on the ground again, yeah, that’s just the reality of what we do,” McGaughey said on Wednesday. “You can look at the kid in New England (Chris Harper) last week. He ain’t got a job. If Bruce were standing right here next to me, I’d say the same thing: ‘You got to take care of the ball. Everybody’s got a job to do. Do your job.’”
The 49ers demoted Jarryd Hayne as the team’s primary return man after six games. Officially, Hayne committed three fumbles, which led to one turnover. Ellington had a fumble against Seattle that the 49ers recovered. His muffed punt Sunday in the first quarter led direction to an Arizona Cardinals field goal.
Instead of the standard basket catch, Ellington tried to catch it with his hands at approximately shoulder height but muffed the punt.
"That’s not what we coach. It’s not what we’re teaching him to do,” McGaughey said. “We’ve had that discussion, and it’s going to get corrected.”
Hayne, who is currently on the 49ers’ practice squad, still leads the 49ers in punt returns with a 9.5 average on eight returns. Ellington averages 7.6 yards on eight returns.