When Sonny Dykes heard the anecdote about the 49ers' all-too-eager rookie wide receiver, he thought that sounded about right.
"I wasn't surprised at all," Dykes said Thursday in a phone interview with CSNBayArea.com.
Quinton Patton, whom the 49ers selected in the fourth round of the NFL draft, surprised the 49ers after landing at San Francisco International Airport on Monday. Patton lives in Nashville, and he was about 20 minutes from a pop-in visit after picking up his rental car.
However, a rookie is not allowed to begin working at the team's practice facility until the school they attended holds its graduation ceremony. The only exceptions are within a 24-hour period after the player has been selected and a rookie minicamp. The 49ers' rookie minicamp is scheduled for May 10-12, and Patton's 24-hour window had already passed.
"That sounds like Quinton," Dykes said, laughing. "He loves to play, and he's eager to impress. He's one of those guys who's a pleaser. So when I heard the story, it really didn't surprise me."
Dykes, the first-year head coach at Cal, recruited Patton out of Coffeyville (Kan.) Community College, where he played offense, defense and was the team's punter.
In fact, there were plenty of times in his two seasons at Louisiana Tech that Patton was ordered to go home.
"(The 49ers) will have to drag him off the field," Dykes said. "At Louisiana Tech, we had to tell him, "Hey, man, you have to take a break. You can't do too much. You're going to wear yourself out. He wants to do well and help out the team. He's never worried about personal stats. He just wanted to help the team win."
Patton posted plenty of impressive stats, too. He had 183 receptions for 2,594 yards and 24 touchdowns in two seasons at Louisiana Tech. In one epic game, Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel accounted for six touchdowns in Texas A&M's 59-57 victory over Louisiana Tech. Patton finished with 21 receptions for 233 yards and four scores.
Trent Baalke, the 49ers general manager, happened to be at the game.
"I did a stop at Texas A&M this year and happened to watch that game while I was at Texas A&M and that's where he kind of caught my eye personally," he said.
Said Dykes, "Against the better teams, he always played well. The thing he's got to learn to do is in (the NFL), he almost got too excited to play against the good teams. He's got to learn to channel some of that. It goes back to what he is. He's very competitive. And the better the opponent, the harder he wants to compete and prove himself."
Coach Jim Harbaugh described Patton's best quality as his competitiveness. And that's a word Dykes used several times to describe Patton, too.
"He's one of those guys, it hasn't been easy for him," Dykes said. "He had to go to JC and a small college. It wasn't like he was given a bunch of things. He's earned everything he's gotten. And I think that's a good story. A lot of guys these days are entitled, and he's the furthest thing from that. He likes to play football and prove himself and be a good teammate.
"They're going to love him. He's what Jim Harbaugh is looking for in a player. He's the kind of guy who wants to do extra all the time."
With his self-paid Nashville-to-San Francisco trip, the 49ers have already discovered the lengths Patton will go to prove himself.