Monday wasn't the first time one of Quinton Patton's coaches told him to go home.
Former Louisiana Tech head coach Sonny Dykes on Thursday said those words were a refrain the last two years on the practice field in Ruston, La. where Patton often would stay late to work on his route running. "We told him that many times," said Dykes, who is now the head coach at Cal. "'We got our work done today, Quinton. Let's recharge our batteries and go back to work tomorrow.'"
Patton's new coach, Jim Harbaugh, told Patton the same thing Monday when Patton unexpectedly flew to the Bay Area to work out with the 49ers. League rules prohibit draft picks from practicing with their new team until the first rookie minicamp, which for the 49ers begins May 10. Harbaugh was impressed by the fourth-round pick's initiative but told him to fly back to Tennessee.
Dykes, meanwhile, said he knew he'd be getting an energetic an enthusiastic player when he watched film of Patton at Coffeyville Community College in Kansas where he played two seasons before arriving at Louisiana Tech. Not only did Patton line up at wide receiver at Coffeyville. He also played defensive back and was the school's punter.
Dykes said he and his coaches considered using Patton as a punter - he averaged nearly 40 yards a boot in 2010 and uncorked a 75 yarder - but that they also had Ryan Allen on the roster. Allen is the only back-to-back winner of the Ray Guy award in NCAA history. The Patriots signed him as an undrafted free agent this week.
"He could have done it for us," Dykes said of Patton. "He wasn't a bad punter. But he wasn't in the same category as Ryan."
Dykes has a lot of interest in the 49ers' receiving corps. Not only did he coach Patton, he recruited Michael Crabtree to Texas Tech when he coached the receivers for that school. The common element both receivers share, Dykes said - they both love the game of football. "That's what separates the good ones from the great ones," he said. "They have a passion for the game."
"Quinton just wanted to prove himself," Dykes said. "Football wasn't one of those things that had been laid out for him. He had to work at it."
-- Matt Barrows