Three reasons why 49ers’ Bruce Ellington will shine in preseason

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All I have to say to the Forever Faithful is watch out for San Francisco 49ers rookie fourth-round pick WR Bruce Ellington tonight! I’m telling you this guy is a stud. I have been watching this kid all throughout camp and I have nothing but rave reviews about the diminutive yet electrifying wide-receiver. In fact, if you heard my recent interview with KNBR, I went on record saying that Ellington would be the rookie to standout during the season. Will Ellington prove me right? Time will tell, but I fully expect him to take advantage of his limited opportunities starting tonight.

Below are three reasons why Ellington will carve a niche out for himself as he shows the coaching staff and fans why they got a steal in the fourth-round.

1. Return Game

Analysis: Ellington has been working diligently in the return game along with WR Devon Wylie, and despite Wylie fairing better in fielding punts cleanly, Ellington is holding his own as he gets acclimated to that aspect of the game. When we interviewed Ellington the day he was drafted, Ellington said, “I have a little bit of experience doing it. I did it in college. I did it a little bit in high school. So, I’m going to be comfortable doing it. I’m ready to come in and do whatever the coaches ask me to do, kick return, punt return, kickoff, punt, whatever it is I’m going to be ready to do.” And Ellington has not disappointed, a prediction I made back in May as I said that Ellington would replace RB LaMichael James in the return game, that may come to fruition if Ellington can display his sure hands and home-run ability. 

2. Mismatch Nightmare

Analysis: This may sound cliche but I’m telling you, when you have Ellington lined up in the slot or the backfield, good things will happen. He can make the first and second tackler miss allowing his speed, agility, and athleticism to naturally take over. Whether running a seven-yard quick slant that can turn into a 17-yard run-after-the-catch or fielding a toss on a sweep, Ellington can do it all as OC Greg Roman can use him in a multitude of different ways. Look for Ellington to shine during the preseason as he should give anyone lined up across him fits. Can you say “bubble screens?” It may happen.

3. Basketball is a game of separation

Analysis: Having played point guard myself and translating that onto the football field, the two games are very similar. Ellington who was the starting floor general for the South Carolina Gamecocks is no stranger to creating space. In basketball it’s all about spacing. How much room should you give your big man down low? What spot should you spot up at as the ball is thrown across court? How much safety help should you apply on the weak side? These are all questions that translate onto the football field and Ellington does a nice job doing that. A player that knows how to find soft spots in zone coverage with the toughness to go across the middle, like penetrating the heart of defense down the middle, Ellington can do it all. Look for him to use his ball skills to his advantage as he knows how to sell routes with his “head fakes” making him an easier quarterback target!


Ryan is the Founder/CEO of, 49ers Beat Writer, Live Game Day Correspondent for Bleacher Report and member of Pro Football Writers of America. Born and raised in San Jose, he also graduated from San Diego State University. His work has been featured on NFL Network, 95.7 The Game, National Football Post, Sports Illustrated, FanSided Network, ESPN Radio, CBS Sports 810, and NBC Bay Area News. For more information, please contact him via email at or call him at (408) 622-0996.