Editor's note: Jim Tomsula will address the media this morning at 11:35am. Watch the LIVE STREAM right here.
Heading into the offseason, the 49ers' No. 3 receiver and return specialist jobs appeared to be Bruce Ellington’s to lose.
But Ellington has had little opportunity to secure those positions in training camp due to the same hamstring strain that plagued him during the offseason program.
“Is it tough? Man, it’s so tough, standing over there on the sideline and working out by myself,” Ellington said. “They’re making plays, that’s what they’re supposed to do. But sitting on the sideline and knowing I can make plays, too, and just sitting over there, it’s tough.”
Ellington, who had little experience returning punts in college, had a solid rookie season after arriving as a fourth-round draft pick. He averaged a respectable 8.2-yard average on 23 returns. Ellington also had 12 fair catches. He muffed one punt, which he quickly recovered, and did not commit a turnover.
Former Australian rugby league star Jarryd Hayne has looked good during the exhibition season and made a convincing case to land a spot on the 53-man roster as the team’s top return man. Hayne has averaged 20.0 yards on six punt returns with no fair catches.
“It’s hard, but at the same time, they got to do what they got to do,” Ellington said. “It’s hard seeing them make plays, but at the same time, I’m happy for them. (Time) is short. Fifty-three. It’s about that time for me to step up and make some plays.”
Ellington made his exhibition debut Saturday against the Denver Broncos. He caught three passes for 29 yards, and returned one kickoff for 20 yards. Ellington said he felt good after the game but could not declare himself completely healthy.
“It’s there. It’s there,” Ellington said of his hamstring strain. “I’m not quite 100 percent, yet, but I can move well enough to go out there and make plays.
“At this point right now, I’m not trying to go fifth gear. In fourth, I’m pretty fast. I’m going to stick with fourth until in practice I can say, ‘I’m good now.’”
Ellington is in competition with Quinton Patton and undrafted rookie DeAndrew White for the No. 3 receiver job behind Anquan Boldin and Torrey Smith. Veteran Jerome Simpson will serve a six-game suspension at the start of the regular season for violations of the league’s policy on substances of abuse.
The 49ers close out the exhibition season on Thursday against the San Diego Chargers at Levi's Stadium.