During 49ers spring practices, wide receiver Bruce Ellington was frustrated. A hamstring injury kept him off the field and hampered his opportunity to prove he deserves more playing time in 2015.
But early in Niners training camp, the second-year player from South Carolina has made a quick case that this could be his breakout season.
Ellington, healthy again, has been running wild as a receiver and kick and punt returner in recent practices, putting on display his No. 1 asset: speed.
The 5-foot-9 wideout has made a number of highlight catches in 11-on-11 drills. On Day 2 of camp he made six catches, including a 50-yard touchdown play and several difficult catches in the middle of the field. The next day he caught two more, before coming off the field for a few minutes with a minor injury.
The top two receiving jobs are secure with Anquan Boldin and Torrey Smith, but Ellington will be in a summer training camp battle with Quinton Patton, Jerome Simpson and DeAndrew White for the No. 3 receiver.
As a rookie, Ellington didn’t get much of a chance. He caught just six balls for 62 yards and two touchdowns. But the 49ers love his speed. They believe he gives them another deep threat.
So far, he’s making a strong case. He says he’s eager to play receiver, return kicks and return punts – anything the team needs.
“I’m looking forward to making plays,” Ellington told the team’s website. “I don’t care where they put me at. I’m just going to give it my all and just make plays.”