Niners GM Trent Baalke first noticed Louisiana Tech receiver Quinton Patton in a game against Texas A&M, when Patton had 21 catches. (Photo by NFL via Getty Images)
When he played for Louisiana Tech, wide receiver Quinton Patton was referred to as “The General.”
His performance in his senior season certainly was worthy of saluting, with 104 catches for 1,392 yards and 13 touchdowns.
Now, after being taken by the 49ers in the fourth round of the recently concluded draft, San Francisco is hoping the young wideout can come into camp and challenge veterans Mario Manningham, Kyle Williams and A.J. Jenkins for playing time as the the No. 3 receiver behind Michael Crabtree and Anquan Boldin.
The Niners’ selection of Patton was overshadowed on the draft’s third day, when the team selected running back Marcus Lattimore less than a half hour later. But it’s Patton, not Lattimore, who is positioned to make the bigger splash in 2013.
The 49ers have been looking for more depth and production out of their wide receiver corps, and Patton potentially could be the guy they've been looking for. At 6-feet and 204 pounds, Patton could be well-suited as a slot receiver.
In his two seasons at Louisiana Tech (after transferring from junior college), Patton had 2,594 receiving yards, 24 touchdown catches and averaged 14.2 yards per catch. Some NFL scouts compared the two-time All-Western Athletic Conference receiver to Reggie Wayne, a receiver who has had an outstanding career in Indianapolis. They like Patton's speed, size, separation and route-running skills, but question his ability to battle for contested balls.
The Sacramento Bee’s Matthew Barrows wrote Monday that 49ers GM Trent Baalke first took a long look at Patton when he was at Texas A&M the day Louisiana Tech lost to the Aggies this past season. In that game, however, Patton had an amazing 21 catches for 233 yards and four TDs.
“That’s where he kind of caught my eye, personally,” Baalke told Barrows. “Certainly the scouts that went through really liked him, liked him as a competitor, liked him just as a football player and felt that from a character standpoint he was a good fit as well.
“Then he jumped out at us at the Senior Bowl. … He got off the bus ready to go, competed very hard, showed very well there, so another big stage. That always helps in the evaluation of these guys.”
Patton, in fact, was one of the stars all week in Senior Bowl practices, according to multiple reports, and received the Most Outstanding Performer award for his position.
NFL.com analyst Daniel Jeremiah, a former NFL scout, tweeted that week that, “La Tech WR Quinton Patton has been excellent at the Sr Bowl. Nice mix of quickness/toughness and he has strong hands.”
Patton’s former high school coach, Will Hester, told the Nashville Tennessean newspaper recently that Patton is not just a gifted player, but a great worker and teammate.
“Quinton is still the greatest practice player that I’ve ever coached,” Hester told the paper. “He was always the first out to practice, grinning from ear to ear. He’d want to do everything, from punt to play quarterback. He loved being out there.”
After being drafted Saturday, Patton told reporters he’s eager to do whatever it takes to get on the field and help the 49ers.
“I’m open to whatever they need me to do,” he said. “I’m trying to make an immediate impact on my team in the best way I can. …An ultimate team player and and ultimate competitor out there on the field.”