SANTA CLARA – It’s safe to assume rookie wide receiver Quinton Patton won’t get the A.J. Jenkins ‘redshirt’ treatment.
Patton, a fourth-round pick in the 2013 NFL Draft out of Louisiana Tech who signed a four-year deal Wednesday, is likely to be forced into action early in his professional career considering the 49ers’ thin wide receiving corps with the loss of Michael Crabtree.
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Crabtree, out for at least six months while he recovers from a completely torn Achilles tendon, was able to make an impression on Patton in the brief time they overlapped in Santa Clara.
“He would just tell us how to run the routes and everything, try to mentor us a little bit,” Patton said. “To lose a guy like Crabtree, I look to him as like a big brother. It’s going to be hard, but people have no choice but to step up.”
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While Crabtree was noticeably absent from Wednesday’s practice, another one of Patton’s mentors made a surprise visit: Sonny Dykes, his former coach at Louisiana Tech and the current coach at Cal.
“It’s always good to see a former coach come out here and just shown me a little bit of moral support, make me a little bit more comfortable out here,” Patton said.
What did Dykes say to Patton?
“He told me it looked like I had a good practice and asked me how it was going against Nnamdi Asomugha. I said he’s very long and very quick still.”
Other than having to stare down a veteran shutdown corner on the practice field and trying to steer clear of rookie hazing, Patton has two more challenges to deal with.
The first is the fastball that quarterback Colin Kaepernick delivers.
“He throws pretty hard,” Patton said, before adding that Kaepernick delivers the football faster than anyone he’s ever caught passes from. “You’ve just got to get your hands up.”
Patton’s other problem? Adapting to the breadth of an NFL playbook.
“I’ve been trying, but every time I try and learn a couple plays, they put some more plays on me.”
After Wednesday’s practice, Jim Harbaugh was asked about the possibility of the 49ers bringing Randy Moss back to fill the void left by Crabtree. While Patton wasn’t mentioned by name, he was part of the group Harbaugh used to deflect the question.
“We’re excited for the young receivers that we have. Really feel that somebody’s going to emerge there because they have to. And competition will create that. And we’ll look forward to watching that.”