Rookie wide receiver Quinton Patton's NFL career with the 49ers is off to a legendary beginning.
Patton's eagerness to get to work prompted 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh to pay him the ultimate compliment -- a comparison to himself.
Patton, unbeknownst to the 49ers or his agent, purchased a plane ticket from Nashville to San Francisco, Harbaugh said during a segment Wednesday evening on KNBR. Patton arrived at San Francisco International Airport on Monday, rented a car and began driving to the 49ers' practice facility in Santa Clara. He called the team's offices to inform the 49ers he was a mere 20 minutes away from getting to work.
There's only one problem: Rookies have a 24-hour period after they are drafted to visit the team's facility and do any football work. Patton was selected Saturday morning in the fourth round. If he had arrived at the 49ers' team offices on Monday, he would have been ineligible to attend the 49ers' rookie minicamp, which runs May 10-12. The 49ers will cover the arrangements and expenses for each rookie to travel to Santa Clara on May 9.
"We didn't do a very good job of communicating that to Quinton before he got to the airport," Harbaugh said. "But the fact that he would buy his own ticket and fly out here, to me, just speaks volumes about him. I mean, to be honest with you, he reminds me of me. That's something I would've done.
"I love it. I can't wait. It's probably the best money he's ever spent even though he had to fly out here and fly back home."
Patton played his final two college seasons at Louisiana Tech, under new Cal head coach Sonny Dykes, after transferring from Coffeyville (Kan.) Community College. In two seasons at Louisiana Tech, he caught 183 passes for 2,594 yards and 24 touchdowns.
He will enter a competitive situation to earn playing time with the 49ers. Michael Crabtree and Anquan Boldin are the presumptive starting wide receivers. Patton, A.J. Jenkins, Mario Manningham, Kyle Williams and Ricardo Lockette are the top contenders for the No. 3 job.
Patton did nothing but help his cause -- even though he still has not set foot on the 49ers' property.
"If he plays for 10 or 15 years in this league, every time somebody talks abut Quinton Patton they're going to recall the story, 'He was so gung-ho to get his NFL career started that he flew out to San Francisco on his own dime,'" Harbaugh said.
"Isn't that awesome? Isn't that just awesome? . . . He is already my favorite guy."