It was a bittersweet moment for San Francisco’s fourth-round draft pick. Just as he started to feel bad about packing up his locker and parting ways with his teammates,
The 6-foot, 204-pound wideout had come a long way in his first season in the National Football League.
The energetic first-year receiver, who made a name for himself early in his career by prematurely flying out to California, remained full of life as he packed away his belongings.
Patton reached deep into his locker and grabbed his black “L.O.D.B.” hat, a gift from
“‘Crab’ would be mad if I forgot it,” Patton said with a laugh.
The rookie formed several bonds with his teammates in San Francisco. So much so, Patton was invited by
The plan was hatched as soon as the 49ers were flying back home from Sunday’s loss in the NFC Championship game.
The rookie showed no hesitation in his response to Kaepernick.
“I was like, ‘I’m there. I’ll be down there training with you,’” Patton said.
With a workout partner already decided, Patton will enter the offseason with the same goals he’s had for his entire football career.
“I just want to get bigger, stronger faster,” said the 49ers wideout, who finished his rookie season with three catches for 34 yards in the regular season and two catches for 25 yards in the playoffs.
“I want to get better at the little details and everything will take care of itself.”
Patton figures to be a big part of the 49ers offense going forward. He finished the playoffs as the team’s No. 3 wideout and could stand to move up the depth chart if 11-year veteran
For now, all Patton can control is how he approaches his own business in the offseason. The young receiver is beaming with confidence after earning a significant role in the postseason.
“I grew a lot as a man from being around the guys in the locker room,” Patton said. “I took more strides than ever, playing football and being outside of football.”
Patton played a key role in a Week 17 victory with a 29-yard sideline reception to set up a game-winning field goal against the Arizona Cardinals. Two weeks later, the rookie receiver was commended for his block to seal the perimeter on a 4-yard Kaepernick touchdown run in the NFC Divisional Playoff round win over the Carolina Panthers.
Although the 49ers were unable to make consecutive Super Bowl appearances, Patton will draw from his experiences in his first year and come back even more motivated for the 2014 season.
“It didn’t turn out the way we wanted,” said Patton, summing up his rookie experience. “We didn’t get the ultimate goal, but as a person, as a man that is growing as a human being, I think I took a lot of strides.”
Not only did Patton earn his spot as the team’s No. 3 wideout, he did so after suffering a fractured foot right after making his first career reception in a Week 4 win over St. Louis. Instead of putting Patton on Injured Reserve, the 49ers wisely kept him on the 53-man roster as he recovered from the injury.
Patton returned in Week 16 and felt like he understood San Francisco’s entire offense much better based on his extensive study habits during his time away from the field.
“I started to know every little bit about the offense so I could go out and play faster,” Patton said.
The confidence in the playbook was key. No longer was the rookie receiver questioning his ability on the field.
“Sometimes you can second guess yourself like, ‘Can I be out here? Can I play with them?’ And then when you go out there, you know what you’re doing and you play fast. Everything takes care of itself,” Patton explained. “You start to expect to play well and you expect to win.
“You’re not thinking that much and at first, that was my biggest problem. I was too busy thinking out there early in the year.”
The only thinking Patton has to do now is if he really wants to keep up with Kaepernick’s tireless offseason work ethic.
Patton sounded confident about his upcoming workouts.
“It’s a long offseason, but it’s going to go by quick.”
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